Seaport Report, Week of June 5, 2014

What’s left of Pier 17.
What’s left of Pier 17.

BY JANEL BLADOW  |  Summer’s here… Let the fun begin!

Piano sand bar... Could it have accompanied former City Council Speaker Christine Quinn in her swan song when she lost her run for mayor last year? Or, is this what we get for the $7 million she committed when she was running hot and heavy and ahead in the race for the city’s top post to vastly improve our block-long stretch of sand?

A waterlogged and weathered Mason and Hamlin grand piano washed up on the low-tide beach under the Brooklyn Bridge at Dover St. last week to the delight of many Seaport and city residents and tourists alike, sporting sticky keys, broken strings and barnacle growth. 

Salts in the neighborhood say it probably washed ashore on the neap tide just before the New Moon. Others say it’s an artist’s stunt to draw attention to the 11,000-square-foot derelict stretch of sand. But it would take a skyhook hoist to vault the steel fencing and the F.D.R. Drive to get the instrument on the beach, looking straight over the East River and the Brooklyn shoreline.

The tattered ebony and ivory keys managed to garner lots of attention from the media with both print and TV coverage and wacky photo stunts by almost everyone else. Some enthusiasts have even hopped the low fence for make-believe concert photo ops.

Unless Big Brother interrupts the instrument’s début, look for it to go cruising on its own again on the Full Moon high tide next week. (June 12). Its own swan song symphony perhaps? 

Bye bye Pier 17… By next week, folks at Howard Hughes Corporation reckon the building on Pier 17 will no longer be standing and work should begin immediately on deconstruction the pier itself. That, they estimate, will take four months. All plans for the new pier and shopping center were approved a year ago, so the new steel friction pier and structure should be on target for at 2016 opening.

Last week H.H.C. took a water taxi load of journos and photogs out to see and photograph the demo while getting an update of the progress.

As the boat cruised close to the end of the pier, Gregg Pasquarelli, principal at SHoP Architects, which has worked closely with H.H.C. since 2010, said, “We’re excited to see the demolition happening. New York is a whole different city from the time when the first festival marketplace was designed. We had to rethink the concept. There are not a lot of places to get on the water and this is as close to the water as you can get. It will be a combination of retail, food and culture, a mix that makes the city so wonderful.”

He pointed out that the Seaport pier will be the third largest waterfront area in the city, jutting 300 feet into the East River. “It will be one of the iconic places — vibrant, different — that you can’t find anywhere else in the city.”

Then he gleefully added, “Oh, and a really cool building as well.”

Of course the media pressed on the controversy over the New Market Building. He pointed out that it stands on a separate platform that is literally rotting into the water.

Food trucks…. The meals on wheels descended on Fulton and Water Sts. Memorial Day weekend and not without cooking up a little controversy along with chili, ice cream and Philly Cheesesteaks. Howard Hughes Corp. had some parked in front of museum shop doors and other retail venues, blocking visitors from seeing their establishments. But the trucks were quickly corralled in a camp circle on Fulton, atop the lovely green AstroTurf. 

Some food shopkeepers in the area bemoaned the modern day chuck wagons, fearing loss of customers but none has felt the financial stabbing as hard as Maria (she feared sharing her last name with us). The hard-working woman has her hot dog cart — The Main Fare — on the southwest corner of Fulton and Water Sts. since 1985, where she told Seaport Report, she has always done a good business. 

“All these trucks were a big surprise. They didn’t even ask local vendors if we wanted to be a part of it. I waited out Sandy and hung in here but since the hurricane my business has been hurt. Now that the nice weather is finally here, I started doing better. Now this. My family has been in the area since 1952, with garages on Front and on Fulton and John. I will hang in there. I like dealing with people and the neighborhood. I’m like a big ambassador to the area,” she laughed. 

Support her — she sells fresh Sabrett dogs — two for $5 with a soda! 

Reaching skyward… Reports surfaced last week that the Brooklyn-based Fortis Property Group has filed permits to build a 140,041-square foot, 51-story luxury residential tower at 39 Fletcher St. (bordered by Maiden Lane and South St.). Architects Goldstein Hill & West envision 74 units — floors 5 to 10 with four apartments each, floors 11 to 24 will have two on each. There’s a pool on 26 then all floors from 27 and up will have only one pad on the 18,000-square foot footprint. They haven’t announced a move-in date yet so you still have time to save your pennies!

Burn off steam or cool your jets… Join the free exercise classes daily Monday through Friday, 7 to 8 am, with the experts from Crunch Gym. Workouts on the “lawn” started this week and run through August 29. Monday kick off the week with Yoga, Sunrise Salutations; on Tuesdays, it’s Breakfast Boot camp with personal trainers; Wellness Wednesday includes a Yoga/Pilate’s fusion, Throwback Thursdays feature Retro-Robics and Zumba or Dance classes on Fridays. By summer’s end we’ll all be body beautiful!