All posts by Tom

About Tom

Tom is a writer and editor with a love of movies, books and all things Battery Park. He’s also an avid runner with a soft spot for sunset runs on the Esplanade and sunset beers, well, pretty much anywhere.

Battery Park City to be inundated with tourbus congestion.

Is Battery Park City Ready for the Tour Bus Invasion?

Battery Park City to be inundated with tourbus congestion.
Do we need more tour bus congestion in Battery Park City? (Courtesy: quiteallright.blogspot.com)

Think the traffic in Lower Manhattan sucks now? Well, chances are it’s going to get worse before it gets better.

When the 9/11 Memorial & Musem opens at Ground Zero on Sept. 11, 2011, commemorating the 10th anniversary of the attacks, even more tourist-filled buses than usual will be descending upon our beloved Battery Park City. We say “even more” because a recent survey shows that Lower Manhattan already gets about 80 tour buses daily, and that does not count the bevy of MTA buses running their daily routes.

The 9/11 Memorial is expected to attract 2 million additional tourists per year, and as many as 7 million in its first year. And guess what? The camera-toting, finger-pointing masses are going to need a way to get down to Ground Zero. Translation: Prepare for the tour bus invasion.

But wait, you say, plans for this memorial have been in the works since 2002, so the Port Authority must have devised some kind of plan for dealing with the increased traffic from tour buses. Actually, they haven’t — at least, not yet.

According to AM New York, Community Board 1 official Michael Levine told the city council on Monday that, “It’s a major concern for us that we have not seen a plan for the buses.” He continued: “We have too many tour buses out there. We are concerned about the health, safety and security issues.”

While a Port Authority spokesman claims that the agency is working to formulate “an appropriate plan to accommodate tour buses,” he declined to say when that plan would be released.

Meanwhile, Battery Park City residents appear to be split on the issue. Some believe that BPC and the Ground Zero area are already too crowded and that the influx of more tourists will be a burden to the families currently living in the area. But others, business owners mostly, are salivating at the prospect of these bonus consumers.

Either way, one thing is certain: Beginning next year, you’re going to want to be extra careful to look for buses when crossing the BPC streets.

Ground Zero performing arts center

Ground Zero Arts Center Gets $44M Boost

Ground Zero performing arts center
City finally gets the ball rolling on new WTC performing arts center.

A long-delayed project to erect a performing arts center at Ground Zero is finally picking up steam. New York City has stepped up to the plate with $44 million to help build the center’s below-ground foundation, according to the Associated Press.

The board of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey approved a deal last week that will have the city repay the Authority for the work at the World Trade Center site.

Continue reading Ground Zero Arts Center Gets $44M Boost

WTC Transit Hall

Sorbara Construction Scores $86 Million WTC Contract

WTC Transit Hall
New WTC Transit Hall is one step closer to reality.

Good news for anyone eagerly anticipating the new World Trade Center PATH and subway hub designed by renowned Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava: Earlier this week, the Port Authority awarded an $86 million contract to Long Island-based Sorbara Construction Corp. to get the ball rolling on the project.

According to NJ.com, the firm will provide the concrete floor slabs, beams and walls that will comprise the sculpted components of Calatrava’s epic Transit Hall — which, along with the 9/11 Memorial and the 1,776-foot-tall WTC 1 (aka the Freedom Tower), is already being hailed by officials as another aesthetically pleasing, architecturally significant addition to the World Trade Center site.

Continue reading Sorbara Construction Scores $86 Million WTC Contract

John Galt Corporation Deutsche Bank Contractor

Contractor Investigated in Deutsche Bank Fire Lands Ground Zero Gig

John Galt Corporation Deutsche Bank Contractor
Do we really want former John Galt Corp. players working on 4 World Trade Center?

Regional Scaffolding and Hoisting Company, a contractor that was the focus of a criminal investigation into a 2007 fire at the Deutsche Bank building that resulted in the death of two firefighters (AND that remains under scrutiny for financial irregularities), is set to return to Ground Zero to work on the office tower at 4 World Trade Center.

According to The New York Times, documents filed with the city show that Regional Scaffolding was issued a permit two weeks ago to install a construction elevator at 4 WTC. And, yes, that means exactly what you think: A company being eyed for criminal negligence and fiscal shadiness has been rewarded with a prime gig at the office tower developer Larry A. Silverstein is constructing at the World Trade Center site.

Continue reading Contractor Investigated in Deutsche Bank Fire Lands Ground Zero Gig

Battery Park City parking changes

City Considers Parking Regulation Changes Downtown

Battery Park City parking changes
Street spaces are coming! Street spaces are coming! (Flickr/nyctaxiphoto)

Fed up with the serious lack of parking spaces anywhere below Canal Street? Pretty soon you might — just might — have a reason to dance a jig and thank your lucky stars. The Department of Transportation (DOT) is looking to change street parking regulations in Lower Manhattan, beginning with Tribeca.

At a recent meeting of Tribeca’s Community Board 1, DOT spokeswoman Suchi Sanagavarapu announced the plans, admitting that the regulations governing street parking in Tribeca were devised when the area was an industrial and commercial hub… and do not reflect the neighborhood’s current residential state.
“Our regulations have definitely not kept up, and we’ve been hearing about it from the community for years now,” Sanagavarapu confessed. “There seems to be a mismatch in terms of what the current land uses are versus what the current parking regulations are.”

Continue reading City Considers Parking Regulation Changes Downtown

Andaz Wall Street farmers market

Wall Street Hotel Sprouts Its Very Own Farmers Market

Andaz Wall Street farmers market
Andaz offers a farm-fresh new take on hotel amenities.

It used to be that a complimentary continental breakfast was the pinnacle of a hotel’s amenities. But in a time when 42-inch HD flat-panel TVs, iPod docks and free wireless Internet are considered the norm, hotels can be hard-pressed to impress.

Not so with the Andaz Wall Street Hotel, which (as its names suggests) is located on Wall Street and (as its name does not suggest) will be knocking the socks off its guests (as well as anyone else who wants to come) with a farmers market to be held on its premises every Saturday from July 10 through Nov. 20.

Continue reading Wall Street Hotel Sprouts Its Very Own Farmers Market

Governor David Paterson

Gov. Paterson to Gut Lower Manhattan Development Corp.

Fed up with ineptitude, D. Patz will LMDC heads roll this summer.
David Paterson

David Paterson doesn’t like ineptitude. In fact, he abhors it so much that he’s going to go ahead and  gut the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. (LMDC) this summer.

According to the New York Post, Gov. Paterson will slash the 35-person staff — which reaps a combined annual salary of around $3 million — down to a crew of just five. The reason for this drastic measure: The LMDC hasn’t doled out $540 million of the $3 billion in federal funds it was created to dispense, and it has yet to carry out one of its primary duties, the demolition of the former Deutsche Bank building.

The LMDC’s critics, which not so shockingly include one of its own board members, say the corporation has devolved into a money-sucking bureaucracy with only one goal in mind: to justify its own preservation.

Gov. Paterson hopes that this slash-and-burn will jolt the corporation into action, compelling those still left standing after the shakeup to put the remaining Congress-allocated cash to good use in the rejuvenation of Lower Manhattan. This includes paying off cost overruns of the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, funding a planned performing-arts center, and giving money to non-profit groups and small businesses.

In fact, the LMDC still has $4 million in its coffers that is supposed to be dispensed in $25,000 increments as grants to local small businesses. And, according to a recent Community Board 1 survey, a whopping 66 percent of local small business owners didn’t even know they were eligible for these grants.

Sounds like the LMDC still has a whole lot of work to do — and pretty soon it’ll have 30 fewer people to do it.

Friends of Animal Rescue cruise

Cruise the East River in Style, Benefit Animals

Friends of Animal Rescue cruise
C'mon, how can anyone resist an invitation that looks like this?

If you’re cruising down the East River at sunset on a luxury yacht while sipping a cocktail, you must be some sort of celebrity or rich investment banker, right? Not necessarily. In fact, you could just be a really great person with a soft spot for homeless animals.

On Tuesday, June 22, Friends of Animal Rescue (FOAR) is hosting a charity sunset cruise from 7-10 PM aboard the beautiful 145-ft. luxury Atlantis yacht. The cruise boards at the Water Club (East River at 30th Street) and offers attendees, cocktails, a buffet dinner, a silent auction, breathtaking views… and peace of mind in knowing that their good time benefits a good cause: pets in need of a little shelter and a lot of love. And it’s all for the bargain price of $100 per ticket (in advance; tickets on the boat are $120) — not a bad deal considering how much peace of mind goes for on the black market these days.

Continue reading Cruise the East River in Style, Benefit Animals

River to River Festival

River to River Festival Kicks Off

River to River Festival
There are 1,000 free reasons to stick around NYC this summer.

It might not be evident by the mass exodus that occurs during the weekends, but New York City is a wonderful place to be during the summer.

Case in point: The 2010 River to River Festival — which celebrates music, film, theater, dance, art, poetry and, of course, family with a summer full of free events –  kicks off with a massive 100-band punk music festival on Randall’s Island next Sunday, June 20. Don’t worry if punk’s not your bag, though. There’s plenty on the American Express-sponsored festival’s agenda to please an array of age groups, interests and cultural tastes.

For non-punk music lovers, there are a cornucopia of concert options, including a gratis show from singer-songwriter Beth Orton (June 30), a live blues performance by John Hammond and his band (July 1), and countless others.

Film buffs should be happy to hear that beginning on July 29, the festival is screening classic New York films every Thursday at 55 Water Street, as part of a “Movie Nights on the Elevated Acre” series. The flicks include Broadway Danny Rose (July 29), Auntie Mame (Aug. 5) and, for the kids, The Muppets Take Manhattan (Aug. 19).

Theater aficionados will swoon over “Summer Stock 2010: An Evening of Broadway Blockbusters,” a 70-minute show featuring some of the biggest Broadway musical hits of all time.

Dance enthusiasts will dig a free performance by the Rochester City ballet (July 10), as well as a series of performances directed by renowned choreographer Deganit Shemy (July 12-15).

And for families there’s the Children’s Festival & Fireworks on July 26.

There are also a ton of events we haven’t mentioned, but it’d take way too long to list them all. So please forgive our summer-induced laziness, and get more info and a complete itinerary of this summer’s free events at the River to River Festival official site.

NYU Looking to Expand at World Trade Center

NYU Expanding to World Trade Center?

NYU Looking to Expand at World Trade Center
Does this mean Chick Fil-A is coming with it?

A few years from now, New York University students may be calling the World Trade Center’s Tower 5 their “dorm.”

That’s right, according to the New York Post, NYU officials are eying the yet-to-be-built tower as part of an ambitious 20-year plan to expand by a whopping 40 percent, adding 6 million square feet of housing, classrooms and administrative space in the process. Around half of that behemoth square footage will likely be added in the school’s current Greenwich Village neighborhood, but space constraints in the area have forced NYU to look elsewhere for the rest of the expansion. That’s where the WTC and Lower Manhattan figure in to the plan.

Continue reading NYU Expanding to World Trade Center?