Seaport Report, Aug. 14, 2013

Rendering courtesy of the NYC Mayor’s office.  Rendering of the mayor’s proposal for Seaport City, which will be just south of the Brooklyn Bridge.
Rendering courtesy of the NYC Mayor’s office.
Rendering of the mayor’s proposal for Seaport City, which will be just south of the Brooklyn Bridge.

BY JANEL BLADOW | Summer fun is rampant. Even our neighbors who don’t disappear every August are enjoying the scene (and pleasant weather) on our newly cobbled streets (or most of them)! Which brings up the exciting news that Water St. is nearly all repaved, Front is nearing completion but Peck Slip will be ongoing for months, and while the street jackhammering is slowing, we still have the nightly bursts from work on the Brooklyn Bridge. Sleepus interruptus is the neighborhood disease of the moment.

They all want a piece of us… The Seaport area has been all the news this summer. First, the debate rages about the renovation of Pier 17. Then, there’s the proposed Seaport City. And, finally grasping for more headline glory are all the politicos coming up with designs for development of the little strip of sand under the Brooklyn Bridge.

What’s important is that all of these ideas overlap on some of the same stretch of the East River waterfront. This is key to all of the development plans now circulating… it’s almost as if everyone is grabbing for a chunk of our ‘hood which was unnoticed and ignored after Giuliani ran out the fishmongers. The grandstanding has everyone from neighbors, local businesses and barkeepers to S.O.S. (Save Our Seaport) members freaking out.

Let’s look at the plans:

1. Pier 17… bigger, better, higher and wider. “The South Street Seaport Renovation Project” application before Community Board 1, calls for not only a bigger building on the current pier footprint but also “waterfront special permits, authorizations and a certification” and rezoning! Not just of the pier location but a rezoning from C2-8 to a C4-6 zoning district of the “Special Lower Manhattan District,” along the waterfront area generally bounded by Maiden Lane, the Brooklyn Bridge, South Street, and the U.S. Pierhead Line (all the tax lots, adjacent street, wharf or place areas — meaning property between South Street and the river). The application is from the South Street Seaport Limited Partnership and the New York City Department of Small Business Services. And some of the retail spaces will be greater than 20,000 square feet.

The 1939 New Market Building, the only piece of the Fulton Fish Market’s history left out of the city-designated South Street Seaport Historic District, is at risk. With the big plans to develop the pier and surrounding area, this could mean demolition of this piece of rare W.P.A. modern municipal architecture unless it gains protection by the Landmarks Preservation Commission.

2. Seaport City… Come on now! Come up with a new name for goodness sake if you are going to redevelop the East Side of Lower Manhattan! Our little neck of the island already owns Seaport! Mayor Michael Bloomberg is pulling out the stops to get the project to protect Lower Manhattan from future Hurricane Sandys launched before his term ends. The idea is for a massive levee running along the 1.5 mile waterfront, which could then one day support this imaginary city. The study area runs from the Battery north to the Manhattan Bridge. Bloomberg called for ideas from the great minds that come up with these Big Ideas by August 22.

3. Brooklyn Bridge Beach… Meanwhile, last week, Aug. 1, the politicians and press gathered on a wisp of sand under the Brooklyn Bridge to announce a $7-million beach! Yep, where there are now rotting pilings and washed up debris, a beach will bloom! The 11,000 square foot sand spot is just a small part of the East River Blueway Plan — “a scheme to increase waterfront access and storm protection,” as Heather Dubin wrote in our sister newspaper, The Villager. Now, don’t get me wrong, it will be nicer to have pretty sand bars and rustling reeds by the boardwalk — along with the proposed sunbathers, kayakers and other sun lovers. But really, concession stands? Canoe launches? And where are these water-lovers going to, say, park the car that brought that canoe?

Okay… let me see if I have this straight — in the small stretch between the Brooklyn Bridge and Pier 17 we will have a massive city rising on manmade levees, a manmade beach and protected waterfront for sunning and “stay-cations,” as Downtown Express reported, and a huge shopping mall with big anchor stores and outdoor entertainment spaces for music and mayhem. Wow, if we weren’t sinking into the sea before, the water line is sure to rise with all this displacement!

Great shape… A really cool gym/physical therapy/spa took a particularly hard hit from Sandy. But Complete Body Downtown, 10 Hanover Square, is bouncing back. The 30,000-square foot center in the former Goldman Sachs corporate fitness club, opened only a few months before the storm and had to rebuild from scratch, according to Alex Reznik, president and C.E.O. One of the most luxurious gyms Downtown, with oversized locker rooms, a two-floor rock climbing wall and four classrooms, the club is rebuilding as fast as it can. The juice bar on the ground floor is up and running, he reports, and the physical therapy department on the mid-level is available to members and non-members.

Reznik plans a soft reopening on Sept. 15 with most of the gym in operation. That includes sauna and steams, shower rooms, cardio and strength areas. The official Oct. 1 opening date will see classes resuming, including spinning, yoga, pilates, rebounding and sculpt, for a few. Stop by or check them out at www.completebody.com.