From our Archives


By Jere Hester

Volume 22, Number 28 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | November 20 – 26, 2009

From our Archive

“The City’s $100 Million Parking Lot”

Downtown Express

November 21, 1990

“As Mayor Dinkins continues to bemoan the lack of federal dollars coming to New York, the city has wrangled $100 million out of feds in exchange for a parking lot at Broadway and Reade Streets,” wrote Jere Hester.

In a reworking deal that was made during the final days of the Koch administration, the U.S. General Services Administration agreed to pay $100 million for the property where they would then proceed to build an office tower. The original agreement, in which the city would be paid in the form of rent-free office space, had to be renegotiated because of budget problems.

“The $100 million will go into our general reserves,” said a spokesperson for Mayor Dinkins.

The U.S. General Services Administration had just released a 2,000-page report that approved both the office building and plans for a new federal courthouse at Foley Square between Worth and Pearl Sts. The feds said that the two buildings, projected at 30 stories each, were needed to supplement the U.S. Court House that already exited at Foley Square and the Jacob Javits building at 26 Federal Plaza.

Wrote Hester, “In a move blasted by Community Boards 1 and 2, the city last year agreed to let the feds condemn the two properties, thus allowing them to skip the usual public review process required for new buildings.”

President George H.W. Bush had signed the legislation, sponsored by the New York Senators Al D’Amato and Pat Moynihan, that past November.

Local residents, particularly those who lived in Chatham Towers, said the 740,000-square-foot building would destroy their neighborhood by increasing noise and traffic.

“We don’t have the illusion that a handful of people picketing is going to stop this thing,” said Helen Rachlin, a tenant leader. “But this project is a threat to our neighborhood. We’d like to see a willingness on the part of the federal government to live with the community rather than to overwhelm it.”

Construction on the U.S. Courthouse at 500 Pearl St. was completed in 1994 and the building was later named for Moynihan. It will be the site of the 9/11 terrorism trials announced last week. The project was part of the General Services Administration’s Foley Square Project, which also included the federal office building at 290 Broadway. That building was scaled back when remains from an African Burial Ground were discovered during construction.

Prepared by Helaina N. Hovitz