June 24th - June 30th, 2005
New Tax Incentives Will Benefit Downtown Businesses
Friday, June 24: Legislators reached agreement on a new tax incentive package that will eliminate or reduce commercial rent taxes for downtown businesses as well as provide exemptions for expenses involved in preparing commercial office space for use. The benefits are expected to exceed $50 million by 2010. For the complete story, please click here.
Century 21 to Expand WTC Store
Monday, June 27: Popular downtown discount department store Century 21 plans to expand its floor space this fall, the Daily News reported. A ring shaped mezzanine, open in the center to display the three-story-high domed ceiling of what used to be the East River Savings Bank, is scheduled to debut on the store's Church Street side in September, the paper reported. Jeff Jasner, director of store operations, told the News that the mezzanine will "look beautiful" but declined to comment on what merchandise will be sold in the new space or whether new salespeople will be hired to work there.
Fulton Street Transit Center Designs Retooled
Monday, June 27: In an effort to reduce the construction budget for its ambitious Fulton Street Transit Center, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority unveiled a scaled-back version of the project. The redesigned hub calls for a smaller glass-and-steel "cone" at the main entrance, which would still open the lower levels of the station up to natural light and could potentially make room for more retail or office space within that area's third floor.
Another significant change is a reduction of the width of the Dey Street tunnel that will link the transit center to the World Trade Center transportation hub, now being designed by Santiago Calatrava. The new plan also will eliminate a new corridor that would have linked the R and W Cortlandt Street station to the WTC terminal for the E train for a free subway transfer.
The proposed changes to the transit center will save the MTA $40 million, bringing the overall cost of the project to $785 million. The cuts do not affect the MTA's ultimate plan of making the Fulton Street station easier to navigate and access from street level. The station is scheduled for completion in 2008.
Seaport Museum Puts Antique Ships Up for Adoption
Tuesday, June 28: The South Street Seaport Museum, financially challenged by a falloff in visitors and increased insurance costs since 9/11, has decided to offer its fleet of antique ships up for adoption, inviting interested New Yorkers to help pay for their maintenance, the New York Times reported.
"People adopt animals; people can adopt ships as well," Paula Mayo, the museum's executive director, told the Times. A philanthropist has stepped up to the plate, paying $300,000 to adopt the W.O. Decker, a 75-year-old steam-powered wooden tugboat, the paper said. Because the museum doesn't expect all gifts to be so generous, it plans to offer parts of ships -- masts, hulls, even ropes -- up for adoption as well, the paper added.
After cutting staff positions, closing its library, and giving away a collection of two million artifacts, the museum has managed to turn its financial situation around, breaking even this year, the Times reported. But it still needs to raise money, according to Lawrence Huntington, chairman of the board of trustees, and the ship adoption program is designed to help it do that.
Revised Freedom Tower Reflects Twin Towers Form
Wednesday, June 29: After nearly three months back on the drawing board, the Freedom Tower was reintroduced to the city in a form that emulates the twin towers in size and stature while keeping the ultimate symbolic 1,776-foot height of the original design. For the complete story, please click here.
Ground Zero Officials Are Planning for Retail at WTC Site
Wednesday, June 29: Officials involved with the redevelopment of the World Trade Center site are laying plans for a large retail shopping complex to draw visitors, generate profits, and help attract tenants to the buildings that will be constructed there, the Wall Street Journal reported.
"We see ground-level retail as an absolutely critical component of redeveloping the site," John Cahill, who was recently appointed by Gov. George Pataki to lead the overall downtown rebuilding effort, told the Journal. Anthony Coscia, chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which owns the WTC site, agrees, according to the paper. "It's more likely you create an office experience that attracts tenants with a strong retail base," he was quoted as saying.
According to the Journal, the Port Authority board recently directed its staff to move forward on development of a mall-size collection of stores and restaurants for the site and has hired Jones Lang LaSalle, Inc., a real-estate company with extensive retail experience, to lead the process. Callison Architecture, a Seattle firm focused on retail projects, has created several options for including up to 600,000 square feet of retail throughout the site, the paper reported.
Questions still remain regarding whether the retail buildings that are built will be permanent "pedestals" that could support office buildings above them or temporary structures that could be knocked down when there is greater demand for office space, the paper said. The location of the stores -- at street level or below -- and their proximity to one another, also has not been decided. Though still working toward resolution of these and other issues, the Port Authority expects to start officially talking to retail developers by the end of the year, the paper said.
Alliance for Downtown New York President Steps Down
Thursday, June 30: Carl Weisbrod, who has served as president of the Alliance for Downtown New York since its founding 10 years ago, is leaving his post to take a job managing the real estate operations of Trinity Church, the Alliance reported. Beginning in July, he will be responsible for leasing and developing 6 million square feet of commercial and retail space concentrated around downtown's Hudson Square. Weisbrod's successor at the Alliance has yet to be named.