UnderCover, Dec. 4, 2013

Seasonal Tidbits
Don’t count Larry Silverstein as one of the big developers who’s worried about incoming Mayor Bill de Blasio’s campaign rhetoric about development.

At Tuesday groundbreaking ceremony not attended by the next Hizzoner, Silverstein said “I’d like to thank Mayor-elect de Blasio, who’s always been a strong supporter of all of our efforts in rebuilding Lower Manhattan  into what it is today.”

The World Trade Center developer was happy to celebrate construction on his Four Seasons project near the W.T.C., perhaps so much so that he flubbed the name of Catherine McVay Hughes, Community Board 1’s chairperson, calling her “Mary” a few times during his formal remarks.Hughes, for her part, did not seem to take offense.

Before things got started, we spoke to the lady we call Catherine about another subject.

Hughes said she’s glad New York Rising’s border in Lower Manhattan has moved up to 14th St. from Chambers St. because she said those Downtown neighborhoods clearly need to be part of the conversation about preparing for future hurricanes.

When we spoke Tuesday about the further expansion to West Chelsea and to the East 30s she did not endorse the idea and seemed to argue against it. But after reading the original version of this article, she said not only is she now ready to endorse the idea favored by others including Councilmember Margaret Chin and State Sen. Brad Hoylman, she joined them in signing an October letter to the governor’s storm recovery office supporting the expansion. The letter, which also asks for additional resources, was also signed by many Downtown elected officials including U.S. Rep, Jerrold Nadler, State Sen. Daniel Squadron and Assemblymember Deborah Glick.

Hughes, who co-chairs the Downtown committee, and others have said the $25 million in state funds set aside for Southern Manhattan will only go so far.

B.P.C. Layoffs
Matthew Monahan has had two stints as the chief spokesperson at the Battery Park City Authority, indirectly serving under both Gov. Cuomos, but he is one of at least two victims of the latest cutbacks at the authority, and is no longer permitted to speak with the press.

Downtown Express photo Sam Spokony Julie Menin
Downtown Express photo Sam Spokony
Julie Menin

Kevin McCabe, assistant to the authority’s chairperson Dennis Mehiel, told us that he has taken over Monahan’s press responsibilities. Monahan and Anne Fenton, deputy chief operating officer, will be leaving at the end of the month due to a staff “realignment.”

“They are providing transition support for the next several weeks but are not responding to the daily flow of events; hence I am the current point of contact for these matters,” McCabe wrote us in an email.

He also said Phyllis Taylor, executive vice president and general counsel, is going at the end of the month voluntarily.

“Ms. Taylor is also leaving at year’s end, however this is not due to the realignment,” McCabe wrote. “She has decided to go the private sector; a move we were made aware of before we instituted the structural changes within the organization. She has been a valuable asset to the Authority, who will be hard to replace.”

The authority is not saying much more about the moves, heightening concerns in the neighborhood and on Community Board 1 about the organization’s future, particularly now that B.P.C. is fully developed.

“We’re a bystander to them not a stakeholder,” Anthony Notaro, chairperson of Board 1’s B.P.C. Committee, said Tuesday night at a board meeting.

Menin chat
We had a chance to speak with former Community Board 1 Chairperson Julie Menin two weeks ago after she participated that day in a panel discussion hosted by the Lower Manhattan Marketing Association. The theme of that meeting was the future of the arts Downtown, and during her remarks Menin said that she thinks much more can be done within the area to move the arts forward.

“I’ve long believed that we need to have a ‘Museum Mile’ in Lower Manhattan,” she said during the discussion, “and to do that we need to effectively cross-market all of Downtown’s major cultural institutions.”

Menin, of course, gained some additional notoriety this year while campaigning to be the next Manhattan Borough President, although she lost to Councilmember Gale Brewer.

Menin didn’t offer any hints about future job endeavors.

“Right now, I’m just going to be spending time with my kids,” she said.