All posts by Seth Werkheiser

Restauranteur Peter Poulakkos Up for Lease on Pier A

Pier A
What will become of Pier A?

The New York Times reports that restaurateur Peter Poulakakos, owner/operator of Harry’s Café and Steak and other Wall Street-area eateries, is the leading candidate to be granted a lease at the 125-year-old Pier A at the edge of Battery Park. The Battery Park City Authority are scheduled to vote on the matter today, amid what is perceived as a veil of secrecy by some locals.

Poulakakos said, “I would do several good things for Lower Manhattan.” He would not, however, elaborate on what his plans entail. The BPCA hopes that Poulakakos could help inject commercial activity into the area. The BPCA controls the pier, which had fallen into a state of decay and disrepair over the years.

Some locals feel that the pier should include a cultural institution to help attract the millions of tourists expected to visit the World Trade Center memorial once it opens. Another lease bidder, Joseph J. Grano, Jr., has proposed the development of an Italian-American museum at the location, but he has not been given any sort of go-ahead.

What is your opinion of a restaurateur being granted a lease at Pier A? Do you frequent the area?

Defining Ground Zero beyond the footprints of the Twin Towers

Helicopter Video Depicting WTC Attacks Released

Defining Ground Zero beyond the footprints of the Twin Towers
Helicopter video captures the WTC attacks (Photo: FEMA)

A video taken by a NYPD helicopter as it circles the burning World Trade Center towers during the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks is quite possibly one of the most chilling events ever caught on tape. The video was recently released and can be viewed here.

The clip is approximately 20 minutes in length and the copter hovers incredibly close to the Twin Towers after both had been hit by commercial aircraft. The copter gets dangerously close to the burning buildings… almost too close. It is incredibly difficult to watch with such a bird’s eye view, even though it is essentially a historical document.

The video also captures the collapse of the Towers from a safe distance. Someone is heard saying, “We got out of there at the right time.”

Did you watch the video?

Regal Cinema Battery Park Noted For 9 Sanitary Violations

The theaters in Battery Park City weren't empty of germs. (Photo: Flickr @smaku)

Ick! Fox 5 NY conducted an investigation of Manhattan movie theaters, taking spot samples from arm rests and concession stands and testing them. You might want to think twice about taking in a flick at the Regal Cinema near Battery Park, since the location had a total of nine sanitary violation points.

One of their key violations? Not keeping food at the required temperature. Maybe you should skip that bucket of popcorn next time you go to this theater. Additionally, a sample taken from the theater’s condiment counter revealed a “gross contamination.”

“This is a pure culture of E. coli ,”the Fox 5 NY inspector said, pointing to a Petri dish from the counter top. “There could be any kind of virus there.” The countertop was inspected solely for bacteria, so other contaminants could very well be lurking.

Jewel Gallagher, a Regal spokesperson, e-mailed the following statement to Fox 5 NY: “The cleanliness of our theatres is a high priority for Regal as we seek to provide a safe and enjoyable environment. On our most recent health department report, Regal Battery Park received an ‘A’ grade from the NYC Department of Health’s rigorous inspections and evaluations. We appreciate any information that Fox 5 can provide us regarding your evaluation, so that we can address any concerns. Rest assured that we take any comments from guests or health officials seriously.”

Does this news make you think twice about seeing a movie at the Regal Cinema?

Man Hit By Truck in Battery Park City

The intersection of North End Ave. and Murray Street was dangerous Friday evening

A man was struck by a struck on the corner of North End Ave. and Murray St. on Friday, March 4th at 6:15 PM. The intersection is considered among the most dangerous in the Battery Park City section of Manhattan, as there is no traffic light installed, forcing drivers, cyclists and pedestrians to have to rely on one another’s navigation skills and look in multiple different directions when crossing.

A reader was kind enough to supply this YouTube video of the weekend accident. It is not graphic and simply displays the commotion at the scene. Further details about the victim and his condition were not readily available.

Do you think the North End Ave. and Murray St. intersection is dangerous? What can local officials do to make it safer for users?

9/11 Memorial at the World Trade Center Site

City Figuring Out How to Handle Tour Bus Traffic to 9/11 Memorial

9/11 Memorial at the World Trade Center Site
Illustration of the 9/11 Memorial at the World Trade Center site. (Credit:

Millions of visitors are expected to flood into the September 11th Memorial at the World Trade Center site, many traveling from sizeable distances via a bus. The Tribeca Trib reports that the city has yet to figure out how to handle the influx and volume of bus traffic. The Community Board 1 is looking at a variety of possible plans pertaining to where the buses will drop off their tour groups, where they will park and how many buses the streets of Manhattan can physically handle, but no solutions have been provided nor have problems and concerns been resolved.

The only information provided was that officials said that they were considering several possible drop-off and layover locations. A concrete plan is expected to be hammered out by April, which is next month, so time is of the essence. One suggestion that was bandied about was to have the tour bus companies shuttle passengers between Long Island City or Liberty State Park, where memorial visitors can take the subway, PATH or ferry. It’s efficient, and those are typical touristy things that visitors like to do and experience while traipsing around the Big Apple.

City officials and Memorial staff are hoping that a timed reservation system, similar to the one used for the Statue of Liberty, will help lighten the load.

What are you planning to do to commemorate September 11th?

Anne Compoccia, Former Community Board 1 Chair, Dies at 62

The Tribeca Trib reports that Anne Compoccia, the former long-reigning chair of Community Board 1, died February 24th following a long bout with cancer. She was 62-years-old and was fondly regarded for her street-smart, tough-talking “New Yawker” style.

Compoccia helmed the Community Board 1 for 12 years and helped steer the downtown revitalization agenda, overseeing the transformation of Lower Manhattan from a 9-to-5 business district that was deserted when the sun went down to a residential community and viable neighborhood. Compoccia’s resume is decorated with achievements like helping to bring ball fields to Battery Park City, the public library on Murray Street and the Tribeca street improvement initiative that was dubbed “The Greening of Greenwich Street.”

The feisty, no-nonsense Compoccia, who went toe-to-toe with suits and politicians, is also credited with helping to bring about the Manhattan Youth’s Downtown Com­­munity Center and fostered the community’s use of Tribeca’s Pier 25 — thanks to her support of these projects. Compoccia also founded the Little Italy Chamber of Commerce.

Compoccia, who lived alone for much of her life, was not perfect, however. She was arrested in 2000 for embezzling $85,000 in city funds relating to the Mulberry Street Mall. She resigned from her post as the chair of the CB1 when investigations into her dealings began. She served a 10-month sentence relating to these activities in a Brooklyn halfway house and took a community service job in a Manhattan hotel for homeless people afflicted with AIDS. Once she completed her sentence, she remained with the hotel in the role of paid supervisor.

Were you familiar with Compoccia’s colorful life story before she passed?

Road Runners Defend Plans to Use BPC as Race Staging Area

The Road Runners would use northern Battery Park City as a staging area

The Tribeca Trib reports The Community Board 1 met with executives from the Road Runners Group, who were defending their plan to use Northern Battery Park City as a staging area for the famed Half Marathon, which will take place Sunday, March 20th. BPC residents vehemently oppose this plan, even though the Road Runners have permits.

As previously reported, Chambers Street and River Terrace would be used to lead the 10,000 runners from the finish line on West Street to the massive reception area at North Cove. North End Avenue, which is two-way and runs north and south, will be partially closed for TV trucks, generators and medical tents. Parking spaces will be occupied by portable toilets on other streets that are not closed to traffic.

Residents are also worried about partition walls and other disruptions. Road Runners Senior VP Peter Ciaccia said at the February 23rd meeting that “it was never the Road Runners intention to bypass planning and not include the community board.” However, since the 13-mile race runs through multiple locations, and therefore, multiple community boards, the group did not need to receive permission from individual neighborhoods. Ciaccia also claimed that he was unaware of the displeasure within the Battery Park City residents regarding the Half Marathon. He also offered to facilitate a post-race meeting to discuss any issues that are a result of this year’s race.

The Road Runners will meet with the Battery Park City Committee again today. What is your opinion of the set up plan for the Half Marathon?

World Financial Center Stairs in the Winter Garden, Battery Park City

World Financial Center Grand Staircase to Be Torn Down

World Financial Center Stairs in the Winter Garden, Battery Park City
Winter Garden Staircase

More construction uproars are happening in Battery Park City. A West Street underpass will be erected between the World Financial Center, which is owned by Brookfield Properties, and the new World Trade Complex, while the Vesey Street bridge will be torn down.

However, even more distressing is that the Grand Staircase at the Winter Garden inside the World Financial Center is also being removed. The staircase, which was erected after September 11th, allows employees and tourists to move between levels of the World Financial Center and doubles as seating for free events that take place at the Winter Garden. The owners of the WFC want to tear them down and replace them with escalators to increase the efficiency of foot traffic.

What do you think of the Grand Staircase removal?

Body Pulled From East River on Tuesday, Identified

A body was discovered in the North Cove Marina

A body was pulled from the North Cove Marina in the East River Tuesday afternoon at around 2:20 PM after being spotted by tourists booking helicopter rides, according to The New York Post. The victim has been identified as Kong Huang. He was 79 and lived on the East Side and had been reported as missing on Sunday by the Office of Emergency Management. Huang reportedly suffered from Alzheimer’s.

“It looked like a bag of trash,” said Angel Gonzalez, an employee with Manhattan Helicopters. Huang’s body was completely submerged, being kept afloat only by his jacket, Gonzalez also said.

What would you do if you made such a discovery while embarking on tourist activities?

Census Indicates Little Italy is Less Italian

In a New York Times profile, a troubling truth about NYC’s Little Italy neighborhood emerged: a census survey released in December determined that the proportion of Italian-Americans among the 8,600 residents in a two-dozen-square-block area of Lower Manhattan had shrunk to about 5 percent.

The 2010 census also revealed that not one resident was born in Italy, either.

In a survey taken of the same area in 2000, the census found that the Italian-American population had dwindled to 6 percent. Only 44 were Italian-born, compared with 2,149 a half-century earlier.

In layman’s terms: Little Italy is becoming less and less, well, Italian.

In 1950, nearly half of the more than 10,000 New Yorkers living in the heart of Little Italy identified as Italian-American. However, some locals speculate that Chinatown’s northward growth and SoHo expanding westward, as well as the rebranding of certain sections with more fashionable names NoLIta, which is an abbreviation for north of Little Italy, are part of the root causes of the section de-Italianizing. Mulberry and Grand Streets remain the most vibrant roads influenced by Italian culture, with plenty of Italian-centric food and shopping, but it’s not like it was during the neighborhood’s heyday.

Some residents feel that there has been an Asian takeover in the Little Italy region, and the National Park Service designated a Chinatown and Little Italy Historic District with no geographic distinction between the neighborhoods. The two neighborhoods are coexisting and have begun organizing a Marco Polo Day and an East-Meets-West Christmas parade.

What do you think of Little Italy becoming less Italian?