Downtown Digest, week of July 2, 2012


Bloomberg opposes Port Authority’s proposal for 9/11 Memorial

Mayor Michael Bloomberg has rejected the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey’s recent attempt to gain more oversight of the National Sept. 11 Memorial and Museum. In an announcement made Mon., July 2, the mayor said he wants to keep the memorial out of the “political process,” according to the New York Post.

Bloomberg chairs the 9/11 Memorial and Museum Foundation, the non-profit organization that runs the memorial. The Port Authority, which is overseen by the governors of New York and New Jersey, owns the World Trade Center site.

Construction on the memorial has slowed drastically over the past year due to multiple disputes between the foundation and the Port Authority.

A spokesman for New York Governor Andrew Cuomo seemed to make a jab at Bloomberg by telling the Wall Street Journal that the museum shouldn’t be politicized — but noted that the mayor and the governors are political officials, themselves.

The Port Authority didn’t return calls for comment by press time.


4 W.T.C. has two construction accidents

Two accidents struck 4 World Trade Center just days following the building’s joyous topping-out ceremony.

On Tues., June 26, a construction worker at 4 W.T.C., whom sources would not identify, was hurt after slipping and falling from a height of about six feet. John Gallagher, a vice president at Tishman Construction Corporation, the company that is building the tower, said the worker was injured by a small steel rod he was carrying in his pouch when he fell, and was transported from the site by ambulance shortly thereafter.

The worker has since been released from the hospital, according to Bud Perrone, a spokesman for 4 W.T.C. developer Silverstein Properties.

The next day, a steel load being lifted by crane suddenly shifted, causing the steel to break through windows on the 46th floor of 4 W.T.C., according to the Fire Department of New York — resulting in shards of glass falling onto Liberty Street. Sources attributed the accident partly to the gusts of wind that day.

“Fortunately, the street was closed at the time, and the Liberty Street sidewalk is protected by a construction shed,” said Gallagher in relaying that there were no reported injuries.

Tishman suspended steel lifts for the remainder of the day of the crane accident, he said, in order to review protocols for evaluating weather conditions. Work at the site resumed the following day.


Potential G.S.A. lease at 1 W.T.C. is stalled in Congress

Although the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey have approved a plan for the U.S. General Services Administration (G.S.A.) to take five floors at 1 World Trade Center, the agreement is now stalled in a U.S. congressional committee, according to the New York Post.

House Representative John Mica, a Republican from Florida, has halted the deal due to issues unrelated to the W.T.C. site, including a feud with the G.S.A. over building space in Washington, D.C., the Post article said. Mica is the chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, which must approve the deal before the lease is finalized.

The Port Authority as well as a U.S. Senate committee have already approved the lease.

The 20-year lease, were it to be sealed, would make the G.S.A. the third tenant of 1 W.T.C. after Conde Nast and Beijing Vantone Real Estate Co., a Chinese property firm. The G.S.A. would receive close to 300,000 square feet of space in the deal, paying a total of $351.4 million in rent over the first 20 years, with as many as four 15-year renewal options, according to an article on bloomberg.com.

The G.S.A. didn’t return a request for comment by press time.

One W.T.C., which is owned by both the Port Authority and the Durst Organization, is expected to open sometime in 2014.


C.B. 1 officially appoints new heads

It’s now official: Community Board 1 has a new team of chiefs.

Tribeca resident Julie Menin, who served as the board’s chair for seven years, passed the torch last week to former vice chair Catherine McVay Hughes, who ran for the position uncontested.

Battery Park City resident Anthony Notaro won the seat of vice chair, while Adam Malitz beat Marc Ameruso for the board’s secretary position. C.B. 1 member Dennis Gault ran uncontested for assistant secretary, while John Fratta, chair of the board’s Seaport-Civic Center Committee, won over Housing Committee Chair Tom Goodkind for the treasurer’s seat.

Hughes, a longtime resident of the Financial District, expressed excitement to take the helm and plans to institute a few key changes to the board from the get-go.

“It’s a lot of work — a lot happens Downtown!” she told the Downtown Express just after her first staff meeting as chair.

The board, under Hughes’ direction, will also be combining the World Trade Center Redevelopment Committee with the Planning and Community Infrastructure Committee.

The new committee, Hughes said, will be renamed the Urban Planning Committee.

“It’s very important to reincorporate the W.T.C. into the surrounding area once again,” explained Hughes. “We’re looking at reincorporating it into the fabric of Lower Manhattan.”


C.B. 1 urges cops to unblock Wall Street’s bull

Community Board 1 has passed a resolution urging the New York Police Department to remove the barricades surrounding the Wall Street “Charging Bull” statue, which is located in the north plaza of Bowling Green Park.

The resolution, which passed unanimously at C.B. 1’s June 26 full-board meeting, cites a “potential hazard” currently faced by the statue’s visitors, who are forced to stand in the street — rather than more safely within the plaza — while admiring and photographing the iconic bull. The barricades steer tourists into the path of vehicular traffic and “detract significantly from the appeal of the sculpture,” according to the resolution.

The N.Y.P.D. first placed barriers around the bull on Sept. 17, 2011 to prevent Occupy Wall Street protesters from tampering with it, and the metal guard rails have remained there ever since. In addition to asking for the barricades’ removal, the C.B. 1 resolution calls for an end to other “severe security measures,” including the constant presence of a police car in front of the Charging Bull.


Chinatown leader picked to help redraw the city’s districts

Justin Yu, chairman of the Chinese Chamber of Commerce of New York, which is headquartered in Chinatown, was one of seven people appointed to the City Council’s Districting Commission by Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Thurs., June 14.

The commission, whose members are appointed every ten years, is charged with redrawing the City Council’s district lines so as to address population shifts within the five boroughs. After a series of public hearings and meetings, the Districting Commission will develop a final plan, based on 2010 Census data, to submit to the City Council — and ultimately to the U.S. Department of Justice — in advance of the 2013 Council elections.

“I feel honored to be appointed by the mayor and to gain this new responsibility in serving the citizens of New York,” said Yu, 67, who has lived in Chinatown for nearly four decades. “It’s great that Asian-Americans are becoming much more active than ever before in the city’s political process, and I’m looking forward to contributing.”

Yu, who was born in China and also lived in Taiwan before moving to New York, is a former president of the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association of New York.

In addition to the mayor’s seven appointments to the Districting Commission, eight are made by the City Council. Appointees include representatives of every borough.