Under Cover

Danny, David & Larry

It may not quite rise to Nixon visiting China levels, but W.T.C site plan starchitect Daniel Libeskind (remember him?) will be speaking in a David Childs-designed building, 7 W.T.C., at a free talk Feb. 19.

In the early post-9/11 years, Libeskind clashed with Childs and developer Larry Silverstein, who hired Childs to change Libeskind’s Freedom Tower design. Former Gov. George Pataki let Libeskind keep the tower where it was, but he let Childs change the design drastically a few times.

The talk is part of the Downtown Alliance’s Third Thursday lecture series, which looks for interesting locations for each discussion — mission accomplished, big time. (Seems all this mention of former Republican executives has opened up the catchphrase floodgates for us.)

Seats for the talks fill up early and attendees must go to www.downtownny.com/thirdthursdays to register for Libeskind’s 7 p.m. discussion, which is cryptically entitled “Counterpoint.” You’ll get a good view of the construction progress on the tower Libeskind didn’t design.

Work of art

Maggie Boepple, the president of the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, tells UnderCover that the planned sculpture garden at Canal St. and Sixth Ave. should open in May with a few trees, seating and pieces by “well known young” sculptors. She said the project on a vacant block has proved to be much more complicated than she and Trinity Real Estate expected.

The 37,000-square-foot lot, donated by Trinity temporarily, will have a moving bench on a large art wall stretching the entire length of one side of the garden. Organizers have just hired a contractor who began surveying the scene at the end of last week. Boepple said it’s the first time a private lot has ever been donated for a public art space and Trinity deserves a lot of credit. L.M.C.C. plans to rotate the work. It will have control of the space for at least two years under the agreement.

Checking up

Most of the time Lower Manhattan Development Corp. chairperson Avi Schick appears at public hearings, he has to defend his agency’s record on the Deutsche Bank building and other projects. So perhaps that’s why, when Assemblymember Deborah Glick recently praised Schick during a hearing, he got a bit carried away.

Glick thanked Schick for the L.M.D.C.’s Small Firm Assistance Program, which gives grants to businesses on streets closed by construction, and suggested he expand it to other Lower Manhattan businesses. Schick sounded eager to comply.

“We announced [the grant program] publicly in March [2008], and just a handful of months later, the money was out the door,” Schick said. “If we can recreate something like that, that would be great.”

He also said it took the L.M.D.C. only four months from the time they announced the program until the checks went out, calling it “a pretty good turnaround time as these things go.”

The only problem is that the L.M.D.C. first announced the grant plan was coming in July 2007, more than a year before the first checks went out in early September 2008. The L.M.D.C. started passing out applications in February 2008, made a formal announcement that the applications were ready in March (it was Eliot Spitzer’s last big event before his sex scandal took him down), and then took six more months to get the checks out.

The end of Peppers?

Peppers, the nightclub at Leonard St. and Broadway that attracted raucous underage crowd according to police and spawned intermittent gunfire on the otherwise quiet streets of Tribeca, is no longer called Peppers. It also may not be in operation much longer.

Last fall, Peppers re-launched as Club Deco, trading rap music for Asian beats, which draw a much quieter and less disruptive audience, neighbors say. The neighbors appreciate the change but some are wary and say Club Deco could suddenly turn back into Peppers.

It looks like they won’t have to worry. Jason Pruger, a broker with Newmark Knight Frank, told Downtown Express that the space is on the market for April 1.

“We’re not going to renew them,” he said of Peppers/Club Deco, though he wouldn’t give the reason.

Alicia Kershaw, who lives nearby, said the news was “probably positive,” as long as the new tenant is more responsible than Peppers was.

School recess

The Greenwich Village High School has put on hold for at least a year the plan to open a sliding-scale private school on Vandam St. in September.

“We lost some fundraising and we are facing an increasingly dire economy,” Aimee Bell, one of the school’s parent organizers, told UnderCover. She said her group has not decided whether or not to back out of the Vandam St. lease yet. If there is a chance to open in 2010, they may keep the space, she said.

The school has a dedicated group of organizers and has gotten some help from Bob Kerrey, the former U.S. senator and presidential candidate and current New School president.