Downtown Digest

One W.T.C. at 52 floors and climbing

One World Trade Center reached its halfway mark this week, as anticipated by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the developer of the soon-to-be tallest building in the nation.

Last Thursday, workers installed the steel on the 52nd floor of Tower One, which now reaches 613 feet into the sky. All 104 stories are slated for completion in 2013.

The Port Authority plans on sticking to the building’s current construction rate of one floor per week.

“We’re keeping the project right on schedule, and that’s what we’ve committed to do,” said Port Authority Spokesperson Steve Coleman. “We’re hopeful of keeping the project on schedule throughout 2011,” he said, noting that high winds could cause unforeseen delays to the project.

Installation of the building’s glass curtain wall, meanwhile, is moving along as planned, also at a rate of one floor per week. “They’re now on the 23rd floor,” Coleman said, having made “tremendous progress” in the past week.

In attempt to make the building festive for passers-by, the building’s electricians hung multi-colored holiday lights on the outside of floors 20 through 50 earlier this month. The workers didn’t need clearance from the Port Authority to put up the decorations, Coleman said, since it doesn’t interfere with construction or electricity work.

Coleman said the Port Authority has received phone calls from community members and remarks from pedestrians walking by the site, commenting on the lights. “The feedback so far has been generally positive,” he said. They’ll be taken down in early January, after the holidays.

SouthWest N.Y. back on the A-list

Southwest N.Y. passed its December 15 re-inspection, conducted by the N.Y.C. Department of Health, with flying colors, fulfilling the restaurant’s co-owner, Abraham Merchant’s promise to his customers.

The D.O.H. officials counted only 13 violations when it reexamined the restaurant last week. Southwest N.Y. and other eateries that receive 70 violation points the first time around have a chance to redeem themselves within weeks of the initial inspection. In the meantime, Merchant and Cohn hope to quell the fears of patrons who heard about the previous “C” grade, assuring them of the eateries’ commitment to sanitary and safe conditions in a letter.

“We’re pleased to be back in the “A” grade,” said Merchant, who eagerly posted the grade at the restaurant’s entrance on Thursday.

Though the re-inspection results proved positive, Southwest’s initial score stays in the D.O.H. record and on its website unless it is dismissed in an administrative tribunal setting.

“We find it a bit disconcerting these reports are published ahead of time without accommodations being made,” said Merchant, who will appear before the tribunal in January to contest the initial inspection report, claiming it to be an unwarranted allegation against the restaurant. “As previously stated,” he said, “all our past inspections [got us] an A.”

C.B. 1 requests removal of bike path

Community Board One is again voicing its opposition over the City Hall Park bike path, claiming that it is imperils pedestrians – particularly children – that traverse the park via the crosswalk that is shared with bikers.

The dismount signs recently installed in the park have proved futile, according to Paul Hovitz, chair of the Youth and Education Committee. “It’s a recipe for catastrophe, having a bike path through a pedestrian area that is not large enough to support both [pedestrians and cyclists],” he said. “It’s unacceptable that we simply assume that dismounting signs are enough without enforcement and without any other issues to address the problem.”

In a resolution dated December 16, C.B. 1 urged the city Department of Transportation to remove the bike route from the park and move it to another location that “will not pose a threat to the safety of children and pedestrians in City Hall Park.”

The D.O.T. responded by saying they wouldn’t consider the issue until the spring, since few cyclists use the bike path during the winter months, according to Hovitz. The D.O.T. did not respond for comment in press time.

The committee previously requested that speed bumps be added to the bike path, which didn’t come to fruition.

Broadway/Nassau A/C subway station renamed

The Metropolitan Transit Authority decided earlier this month to do away with “Broadway/Nassau” as the name of the A/C stop at Fulton Street. It will now be known simply as Fulton Street.

The new name is meant to facilitate transportation for subway riders, according to M.T.A. spokesperson Charles Seaton. “Now, you have the entire complex with one single name, rather than a complex with three names plus one,” he said.

The renaming is part of a massive overhaul of the Fulton Street subway. One of the major aspects of the project, Seaton said, is facilitating transfers between trains, which the new name for the A/C stop will do.

Signs listing the stops in the older subway trains have been updated with the new name of the A/C stop. The M.T.A. is still in the process of updating the signs in the newer trains, which, Seaton said, could take several weeks.

Bloomberg deems King’s ‘radicalization’ hearings inappropriate

In an opinion piece that appeared in Sunday’s Newsday, U.S. Representative Peter King said he plans to organize a series of hearings on the radicalization of American-Muslims in an effort “break down the wall of political correctness.”

King, the soon-to-be chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, was a vocal opponent of the Park51 community center earlier this year, and has been quoted as saying, “80 to 85 percent of mosques around the country are run by Islamic fundamentalists.”

Mayor Michael Bloomberg denounced King’s scheduled hearings on radical Islam, calling them inappropriate.

Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, told the Huffington Post that he worries that the hearings will turn into an “anti-Muslim witch hunt.” Terrorist plots have recently been investigated, he said, since Muslim community members were allegedly uncooperative with law enforcement.