Downtown Digest, Week of Oct. 24

Chen trials result in dishonorable discharge, face more delays

Travis Carden, the fifth soldier to be tried in relation to Danny Chen’s suicide, will be dishonorably discharged from the U.S. Army and will receive a $1,000 fine for attempting to impede the Chen investigations at Fort Bragg in August. He has also been sentenced to a prison term of 10 months.

Carden, 25, pled guilty on Oct. 11 to a number of charges stemming from an altercation with members of his unit, including striking and pushing another soldier, threatening another soldier, negligently using a firearm and damaging government property, as well as negligently discharging a pistol in a government van and attempting to impede an investigation.

Danny Chen, who grew up in Chinatown and was the only Asian-American in his military unit, was subjected to several weeks of hazing while deployed in Kandahar, Afghanistan last year. Eight soldiers in all were charged in connection to his death, but only Carden and one other, Specialist Ryan Offutt, have been ousted from the military.

Carden had been found guilty on Aug. 22 of hazing Private Chen by taunting the soldier with racial slurs and ordering him to do push-ups with water in his mouth. Carden was consequently sentenced with a reduced rank and a fine and avoided dishonorable discharge.

The recent development in the Carden case is seen as a victory by City Council Member Margaret Chin and the New York Chapter of the Organization of Chinese Americans (O.C.A.), who contend that all eight soldiers should be removed from the army.

“During the previous summary court-martial, Specialist Carden was not punished for his crimes,” said Chin in a statement released to the press. “This time, I am relieved to see that the army has dishonorably discharged Specialist Carden.”

The remaining three soldiers have yet to be tried by the courts-martial at the army’s Fort Bragg, South Carolina military base. The trial of First Lieutenant Daniel Schwartz, originally set for Oct. 24-26, has been delayed due to procedural motions by the government and the defense, according to army spokesperson Benjamin Abel. More time is required to prepare for the trial, he noted, and a new trial date has not been set.

This news follows the previously announced delay of the final two trials in the Chen case of Sergeant Jeffrey Hurst and Staff Sergeant Andrew Van Bockel, whose trials were moved to Nov. 5-9 and Nov. 13-21, respectively.


Port Authority authorizes retail construction at the W.T.C.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey’s Board of Commissioners

has approved an $11.1 million construction project to develop 16,000 square feet of retail space at the World Trade Center. The shopping concourse, dubbed Cortlandt Way, will be built between Towers 3 and 4, between Church and Greenwich Streets. Construction, which will be handled by contractor T.B. Penick & Sons, is set to begin later this year.

The street-level concourse is only a small part of approximately 450,000 total square feet of retail space planned for the W.T.C. in collaboration with the Westfield Group, one of the world’s largest shopping center developers and property owners. The Westfield Group is known for vertical integration, meaning that the company manages all aspects of development including design, construction, leasing, management and marketing. In an agreement with the Port Authority board earlier this year, Westfield pledged to invest $612.5 million for a 50 percent split of the venture.

According to developer Silverstein Properties’ W.T.C. website, Cortlandt Way will be one of the largest shopping districts in the country and will help boost Downtown’s economy as a major part of the new complex. Shops, services and eateries will be spread out over six different levels, including two underground floors that will connect to the Fulton Center and the corner of Liberty and Church Streets. Concourses will be located underground in the W.T.C. Transportation Hub; at street level on Cortlandt Way, Church Street and Dey Street; and above street level in Towers 2, 3 and 4.

The retail space is expected to be complete in 2014.


D.N.A. announces four new partnerships

Dance New Amsterdam (D.N.A.) recently announced that it will be bringing in four new partners as part of its five-year recovery plan. The four partners are the Joffrey Ballet School, the Tom Todoroff Acting Conservatory, the Institute of Bollywood Dance & Film (I.B.D.F.) and Dance U.S.A. Presenters. In addition, D.N.A. hopes to strengthen its partnerships with Downtown organizations by working with the Borough of Manhattan Community College’s Tribeca Performing Arts Center and with FitEngine.

The partnerships with Joffrey and Todoroff will focus on creating “incubator space for alternative ideas to dance programming,” according to D.N.A.’s news release. Todoroff and D.N.A. will host workshops for actors and dancers in order to give participants a wider range of performance opportunities. Joffrey Ballet will also be introducing new ballet programming at D.N.A.

D.N.A., a non-profit dance organization founded in 1984, moved to the Sun Building at 280 Broadway in 2006. Its five-year “Building Blocks to Recovery” plan is supposed to significantly help finance the debt resulting from the studio’s move to Lower Manhattan. Partnerships with Joffrey, Tom Todoroff, I.B.D.F. and Dance U.S.A. Presenters are expected to raise annual revenue by almost $300,000, but the five-year plan will still rely on contributions from individuals, foundations and corporate sponsorships.


Léman Manhattan introduces writing contest for eighth graders

Léman Manhattan Preparatory School is partnering with Newbery Medal and Printz Honor Award-winning author Jack Gantos to create the inaugural Jack Gantos Writing Contest for citywide eighth graders.

Gantos, the author of “Dead End in Norvelt” and “Hole in My Life,” will be judging original short story and personal narrative submissions. The winners will be announced by Jan. 15, 2013.

The author of the top story will receive a full high school scholarship to Léman Manhattan. Additionally, the ten top finalists will get to attend a writing workshop run by Gantos and will be invited along with their parents to a reception where they will be awarded certificates that recognize their achievement.

Submissions are due by Sat., Dec. 15. They must be 1,500-2,000 words in length, double-spaced and accompanied by a cover letter describing the students’ reasons for participating and containing the contact information of the students and school they are currently enrolled in.

Submissions should be mailed to Drew Alexander, Léman Manhattan Preparatory School, 1 Morris St., New York, NY 10004. Léman Manhattan, part of the Meritas International Family of Schools, is a private, pre-k-to-12 preparatory school. For more information, visit www.lemanmanhattan.org or call 212-232-0266.

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