VOLUME 1, NUMBER 3
RECONNECTING DOWNTOWN POST-SANDY
NOV. 21 - NOV. 27, 2012
Downtown Alliance launches $1 million grant program BY TERESE LOEB KREUZER
Photos by Terese Loeb Kreuzer
Elizabeth Berger, president of the Downtown Alliance, announcing a grant program for small businesses affected by Superstorm Sandy that are in Flood Zone A below Chambers Street.
On the morning of Nov. 19, Elizabeth Berger, president of the Downtown Alliance, stepped up to a lectern set up on chilly Stone Street and made an announcement that likely warmed the hearts of all who heard her. The Downtown Alliance is launching a program to give grants to small businesses that were pummeled by Superstorm Sandy. The Downtown Alliance has funded the program with $1 million and has asked others to match or exceed the Alliance’s initial donation. Trinity Wall Street, Citibank, The Durst Organization, the Howard Hughes Corporation, the FiDi Association and Goldman Sachs have already put money in the kitty. The fund now has almost $1.5 million to disburse and hopes and expects to have more. “This program is designed to get the small businesses of Lower Manhattan, who are really key to our success as a whole new kind of central business district, back in business,” said Berger. “It will complement other relief efforts that are already under way.” The initiative, called “Lower Manhattan: Back to Business Small Business Grant Program,” is for retailers, restaurants and
Downtown hotels, closed, open and reopening BY TERESE LOEB KREUZER Superstorm Sandy was not an ideal hotel guest. She smashed some Downtown hotels to bits, spared others for reasons of her own and left others with so much mess to clean up that they weren’t able to open for weeks after she signed out. NYC & Company, New York City’s tourism arm, estimated that 30 of its member hotels had to close at least temporarily
because of Sandy. A disproportionate number of these were in Lower Manhattan. The Best Western Seaport Inn at 33 Peck Slip took a heavy hit. The website (www.seaportinn.com) says, “We are sorry, due to the extensive damage caused by Hurricane Sandy to the Downtown area we are not able to open for business at this time.” No rooms are shown as available until Jan. 2. In January, the room rates posted on the website range from $160 a
night to $230, depending on the day of the week. The World Center Hotel New York at 144 Washington St. is also still closed as is the Holiday Inn Express New York City Wall Street at 126 Water St. The boutique Wall Street Inn with 46 rooms at 9 South William St. is closed but hopes to reopen soon. “We sustained damage Continued on page 6
service providers affected by Superstorm Sandy. Qualifying small businesses must be located within Flood Zone A on the south side of Chambers Street and below. They must have 50 or fewer employees and gross annual revenues of $5 million or less. They must have been open for at least a year or have a five-year lease. They must be open at the time of application, or for those located in buildings closed for storm-related reasons, must be scheduled to open by April 2013. Businesses in that situation will receive their grants when they actually reopen. Finally, they must be able to document loss and replacement costs not covered 100 percent by insurance or other reimbursement for property, equipment or inventory loss due to up to 10 days of street closures, lack of utility service or related conditions. The maximum grant is $20,000. “Our goal is to get the money out there quickly,” said Berger. “Within the next 10 days, we will post the application online and announce where small businesses can meet with representatives for their grant interviews.” Applications will be processed on a first come, first served appointment basis for as long as the funds are available through Continued on page 2
IN THIS ISSUE
BUSINESS FUND . . . . . . . . . . 2 BROWNIES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 SOUTH ST. SEAPORT . . . . . 5
November 21 - November 27, 2012
C.B. 1 and New Amsterdam Market create new biz fund BY TERESE LOEB KREUZER Bills placed in a glass pickle jar have provided the seed money for a new fund to aid small businesses in the South Street Seaport and elsewhere in Lower Manhattan. On Nov. 19, Robert LaValva, founder of the New Amsterdam Market on South Street, took $2,000 to the bank and opened an account for the New Amsterdam Small Business Fund. The fund was established in collaboration with Community Board 1 to raise money for small businesses afflicted by Sandy. LaValva said that the supporters of the New Amsterdam Market are people who, in general, support small business and small business development. “We want to reach into this network to help small businesses get back on their feet,” he said. “We will work with C.B. 1 to determine how to allocate the funds.” He said the distributions will be in the form of grants, not loans. The initial deposit to the New Amsterdam Small Business Fund came from the New Amsterdam Market’s Peck Slip Pickle Festival, held on Sunday, Nov. 11. People who attended were asked to put money in a jar to help Sandy victims. Around that time, Community Board 1 set up a Hurricane Relief Small Business Task Force to help small businesses. C.B. 1 needed a non-profit recipient for any money
raised and LaValva volunteered. Ro Sheffe, who heads C.B. 1’s Hurricane Relief Small Business Task Force, said that it’s imperative for Lower Manhattan to get the mom-and-pop businesses up and running again. He said that many large office buildings are dark and empty right now and may be for months, but when they come back, he asked, “What will they find? The people who work in them need a place to buy lunch. It’s a symbiotic relationship.” Sheffe said that 25 million square feet of commercial Class A office space in Lower Manhattan has been sidelined by Sandy. At the same time, he said, the small stores are in “dire circumstances with physical damage and inventory wiped out.” Even if these shopkeepers can dig out, said Sheffe, they fear that with so many square feet of major corporate office space destroyed, there will be no one to patronize them. “It’s an ecosystem,” he said. Given the severity of the problem, the New Amsterdam Small Business Fund is a drop in the bucket — but it’s a start. LaValva said that anyone wishing to donate to the fund can send a check to the New Amsterdam Small Business Fund, P.O. Box 902, Peck Slip Station, New York, NY 10272. He expects to have a website mechanism for donations in the near future. For more information, email email@example.com.
Photo by Terese Loeb Kreuzer
Fernando Dallorso, co-owner of Stella, a restaurant at 213 Front St. in the Seaport, showing his ruined restaurant to N.Y. State Senator Daniel Squadron.
$1 million grant program Continued from page 1
Dec. 31, 2012. “It’s going to be very important to get the word out quickly that this program exists,” Berger said. Small business owners who wish to review the requirements and submit an
application should go to www.downtownny. com/backtobusiness. For more information about the program, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Organizations or individuals wanting to contribute to the program can contact Bill Bernstein at email@example.com or call (212) 566-6700.
November 21 - November 27, 2012
TALK TO US! This is the third issue of NYC Reconnects. It is being published weekly, sometimes as an insert in NYC Community Media’s other newspapers (Downtown Express, The Villager, The East Villager, Chelsea Now and Gay City News) and sometimes as a stand-alone paper. We would like to hear from you. Send us your comments about this publication and ask questions related to Sandy. We’ll try to get answers. Letters to the Editor are always welcome. Send email to Terese@nycreconnects.com.
NYC Reconnects photo by Terese Loeb Kreuzer
Bob Townley, executive director of the Downtown Community Center and Manhattan Youth, with members of Girl Scout troop No. 3368 who raised money to try to rehabilitate the community center at 120 Warren St.
Terese Loeb Kreuzer Associate Editor, NYC Reconnects
Brownies aid Manhattan Youth BY TERESE LOEB KREUZER
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Flooded by Superstorm Sandy, Manhattan Youth’s Downtown Community Center at 120 Warren St. is faced with a big, multimillion-dollar problem in trying to rebuild but that didn’t keep 12 little girls from wanting to help. On Nov. 16, they presented Bob Townley, the community center’s executive director, with a check. They had raised the money by stationing themselves outside of Whole Foods at Greenwich and Warren Streets and asking passers-by for donations. They also solicited donations of such items as toiletries, food, baby diapers, batteries, flashlights and cleaning supplies to send to the Rockaways. They loaded a utility van to the brim with what they had collected. Members of Girl Scout troop No. 3368, the girls are 6 to 8 years old, and officially “Brownies,” not yet grown-up Girl Scouts. They attend P.S. 234 or P.S. 276, where their leader, Teri Foley, is a reading specialist. The troop used to meet at the community center and some of them attended Manhattan Youth’s after-school programs, which is how they knew what had happened when a 20-foot storm surge from Sandy left the lower levels of the community center in ruins. “Most of the girls were affected by Sandy,” said Foley. “Many of the them evacuated and were displaced.” She, too, was required to leave her apartment in Zone A. Without power for a week, Foley had
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plenty of time to think. “In the dark on Tuesday evening, I came up with a plan to have the girls take action,” she said. “One of my goals for the Girl Scouts is to teach these girls how important it is to help others.” The next Tuesday, Election Day, was “Collection Day” for the girls. It went well. Afterward, they said that some people who they asked went home and then came back with donations. Townley told the girls that their gift would help the community center buy the computers and other equipment it needs and make the repairs. “If a lot of people do a little, it adds up to something big,” he said. One of the girls, Devin Fink, 7, said she was thankful to be able to help. Foley’s daughter, Lauren, 7, said the girls were proud of themselves for helping others and it “felt good to their hearts.” Manhattan Youth’s after-school programs resumed on Monday, Nov. 5. Activities that formerly took place at the community center are now taking place at the schools that Manhattan Youth serves. No staff has been laid off. “Rebuild quickly, no layoffs - that has become our mantra!” Manhattan Youth says on its website. Please donate to help Manhattan Youth reach our goals and keep our promise to our staff and your children. With your help, we will be up and running soon!” For information on donating to Manhattan Youth, go to www.manhattanyouth.org/
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November 21 - November 27, 2012
Wall Street Walks in Sandy’s tracks BY TERESE LOEB KREUZER Led by tour guide Annaline Dinkelmann, founder of Wall Street Walks, a dozen people set out on the afternoon of Friday, Nov. 16 to see exactly what Superstorm Sandy had done to Manhattan’s Financial District and how the cleanup was going. This was the first of Wall Street Walks’ “Sandy” tours, which will continue on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays to the end of the year. Starting at 55 Wall St., Dinkelmann showed a map of Dutch New Amsterdam and pointed out how much of Lower Manhattan rests on landfill — vulnerable to Sandy’s incursions. At Broad and Nassau Streets, a head of steam coming out of a grate in the street proved to be a Sandy artifact. Many buildings in the area are heated by steam, Dinkelmann told the group, and were without heat when flooded boilers failed. The steam came back on in that area around a week after the storm. In front of the New York Stock Exchange, Dinkelmann said that it continued to run during and after Sandy because it had backup generators. She also explained that after 9/11, the U.S. government implemented new regulations for business continuity planning. Companies such as the Stock Exchange were required to have back-up sites geographically removed from their main site so that business could go forward. At first these sites
were 50 miles away, she said, then 100 miles. Now, with new technology, they can even be in another country. The New York Stock Exchange has a back-up site in London. Dinkelmann said that she began her research for the Sandy tour four days after the storm had departed. She walked through the entire Financial District, taking photos and notes. A trek through the area with Sandy in mind provided clues as to why some buildings suffered more than others. Slight variations in terrain turned out to be significant. A sloping street would cause water to run downhill and pool at the end of it. Broad Street, as Dinkelmann pointed out to the tour group, had a canal running through it in Dutch times. The wide street was a perfect conduit for Sandy’s bloated waters. It turns out, in fact, that the Dutch canal was actually an inlet of the East River. Dinkelmann said that in many cases Sandy’s water found its old paths and tore through what humans had interposed. Pumping equipment still lined much of Broad Street, with sandbags, plywood and trash strewn around it. As the group crossed State Street to the east of Battery Park, Dinkelmann called attention to a light wind. That was where the Dutch had their windmills, she said. The natural winds in that area stirred Sandy’s winds to even greater fury. The periphery of Battery Park was hard
Photo by Terese Loeb Kreuzer
Annelinne Dinkelmann offers tours showing where Sandy struck.
hit — the center, relatively intact. In addition to showing Sandy damage, Dinkelmann wanted to show that Lower Manhattan was not a wasteland. After a herculean cleanup effort, some stores had reopened. They are eager to have customers know they’re back.
Dinkelmann’s “Sandy” tours take place at 1 p.m. on weekends and cost $25. She is donating the profits to the South Street Seaport Museum, whose lower floors were badly damaged by Sandy. For more information and to sign up for a tour, go to https:// www.wallstreetwalks.com/sandy.phpx
WE STAND WITH LOWER MANHATTAN Monday’s storm devastated Seaport homes and small businesses. We are learning what can be done to help our neighborhood. Visit our website for updates. newamsterdammarket.org
NEW AMSTERDAM MARKET
November 21 - November 27, 2012
South St. Seaport Museum rebuilds BY TERESE LOEB KREUZER Thanks to expert seamanship, the South Street Seaport Museum’s historic ships came through Sandy’s thrashing intact, but the museum’s exhibit space at 12 Fulton St. was not so fortunate. The water in the lobby rose to a height of five feet, destroying the building’s electrical systems, café, admission desk, computer system and gift shop. Bowne & Co. Stationers at 211 Water St., an outpost of the museum with a clutch of antique printing presses in the back of the store, emerged from Sandy’s onslaught with several hundred cases of irreplaceable type soaked with water. The type needed to be dried out, rubbed with isopropyl alcohol to remove salt deposits and then dried again. Susan Henshaw Jones, director of the Museum of the City of New York and of the South Street Seaport Museum, estimates that it will take millions of dollars to repair the damage inflicted by Sandy. In the meantime, the museum is closed, losing much-needed revenue. But she says she is not discouraged. At first volunteers at Bowne worked without heat. Now the museum has purchased four generators that have enabled museum
staff and volunteers to continue the cleanup work with less discomfort. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has lent the main museum on Schermerhorn Row a 350-kilowatt generator. In addition, the museum has rented three large heaters capable of warming 36,000 square feet. This will enable the museum to provide climate control for its collections and exhibitions, including “Compass: Folk Art in Four Directions,” an exhibit that was organized by the American Folk Art Museum and that was slated to be on view in the Seaport Museum’s galleries through Feb. 3, 2013. Henshaw Jones says that she hopes the South Street Seaport Museum will be able to reopen in a week to 10 days. The small steps already taken would not have been possible without donations from people who gave anywhere from $20 to $2,000 to help out. “If you can help, please visit our website (www.southstreetseaportmuseum. org) or send a contribution to Hurricane Sandy Relief Fund, South Street Seaport Museum, 12 Fulton Street, New York NY 10038,” Henshaw Jones asks. “A gift of any size will be most gratefully appreciated!”
Disaster aid doesn’t affect Social Security or Medicare beneﬁts People who receive federal disaster assistance because of Superstorm Sandy will not have to pay additional income taxes or see any reduction in their Social Security checks or other federal benefits. Disaster assistance does not count as income. The assistance may consist of grants for temporary housing, essential home repairs, replacement of personal property or other needs. Donations from charitable organizations also will not affect Social Security payments or Medicare benefits. Call the FEMA helpline at (800) 621FEMA (3362)or go to a disaster recovery center for more information or to register with FEMA. People with a speech disability or hearing loss can call TTY (800) 462-7585. Disaster recovery centers are listed online at www.FEMA.gov/DRCLocator. Online registration is available at www. DisasterAssistance.gov. Or people can register with a tablet or smartphone by using the FEMA app or by visiting m.fema.gov. Homeowners, renters and business owners who sustained damage from the hur-
ricane in any of the 13 New York counties designated for federal individual assistance may be eligible for FEMA grants to help cover expenses for temporary housing, home repairs, replacement of damaged personal property and other disaster-related needs, such as medical, dental or transportation costs not covered by insurance or other programs. Eligibility for FEMA assistance is not dependent on income. The determination of the amount of disaster assistance an eligible applicant receives is based on the amount of loss and damages incurred as a direct result of the storm and the amount of insurance settlement, if any. For more information on Social Security, contact the Social Security Administration by calling (800) 772-1213 or by going to www.SocialSecurity.gov. For more information on Medicare, call (800) MEDICARE (800-633-4227) or go to www.Medicare.gov. For more information on Sandy recovery efforts in New York, go to www.FEMA.gov/ Disaster/4085.
VISIT US AT NYCRECONNECTS.COM
November 21 - November 27, 2012
Andaz Wall St. reopens BY TERESE LOEB KREUZER Jeff Miller, the general manager of the Andaz Wall Street hotel at 75 Wall St. grew up in California, where, he said, “The biggest challenge was earthquakes.” When he came to the Andaz he didn’t expect to have to deal with a flood. But the biggest flood in Lower Manhattan in more than a century awaited him. The Andaz fronts on Water Street. Pearl Street, at a slightly higher elevation, is behind the hotel. On Oct. 29, Sandy’s water coursed through the lobby, reaching Pearl Street. As the water subsided, it left a couple of inches in the lobby but took out the parking garage, meeting rooms and the hotel’s fitness center and spa — all on the lower level. Miller said he hopes to get them back in three to six months. “It depends on the permitting process,” he said. Guests were evacuated from the hotel on Oct. 28. The hotel reopened on Nov. 11. Because of a lack of gas, it did not have food and beverage service until Nov. 14, when it started serving breakfast. Lunch service was restored two days later, and dinner and bar service, this week. The Andaz plans on offering a multicourse Thanksgiving dinner on Nov. 22 from noon to 6 p.m. (at $50 a person), which bespeaks confidence both in the kitchen and in the utilities. The hotel was lucky in one respect, Miller said. The electrical equipment was on the Pearl
Street side and was not heavily damaged. The explosion of a Con Edison transformer on 14th Street did leave the Andaz without electricity for a week, but as soon as that was fixed, the lights in the hotel came back on. Verizon phone service still has not been restored. “Verizon says we’ll get our phones back ‘any day,’” said Miller. “They’re communicating with us but I know the problems are pretty massive.” Despite the delays, he complimented the utilities on their cleanup and restoration work. “They’ve brought in a lot of people from different areas of the country. It’s just a major effort,” he said. “They’re working very hard.” Some of the Sandy cleanup crews are staying at the hotel and are likely to be there for six months. Miller said that at the moment, the hotel is full. “After the storm, we had a lot of vacancies because a lot of people cancelled their trips to New York,” he commented. “But with the storm and the restoration crews here and the utilities and the Mayor’s Office needing housing for displaced residents in the Lower Manhattan area, it created demand.” Of the hotel’s 253 guest rooms, 70 are currently occupied by people who have been displaced from their apartments and 30 by people who are working on Lower Manhattan restoration. Miller said they can stay as long as they need to. “We’re getting to December and January,” he observed, “which are typically our lighter seasons.”
Downtown hotel update Continued from page 1
to our mechanical plant during Hurricane Sandy,” said general manager Bozhidar Bachvarov in an email. “Our product – lobby and rooms – were not damaged.” He said that the hotel is well on its way toward repairing and replacing damaged equipment and is “working very hard to be able to re-open at the beginning of December.” He said that the hotel’s reopening rates would be posted on its website at www.thewallstreetinn.com. The DoubleTree by Hilton Financial District, which is at 8 Stone St. not far from the Wall Street Inn, was evacuated on Oct. 28 and then had to close but has since reopened. It took on water in the basement, which damaged electrical and boiler room equipment. To fill its guest rooms again, it is now offering some inducements. Through Dec. 27, guests that book three nights will receive complimentary high-speed Internet and a breakfast buffet. The DoubleTree’s winter package, good from Jan. 1 to Feb. 28, 2013 (except for Feb. 14 to 17), is for those who book two or more nights. They will receive a complimentary breakfast buffet, 15 percent off dinner in the hotel’s Eightstone restaurant and a complimentary warm after-dinner cocktail. The 217-room W Downtown hotel at 123
Washington St., shuttered on Oct. 28 and reopened on Friday, Nov. 9 along with its BLT Bar & Grill, is also making some concessions. Tri-State residents displaced by Sandy receive 20 percent off the W’s room rates through Dec. 31, 2012. More information is available on the hotel’s website at www.wnewyorkdowntown.com/. The 500-room New York Marriott Downtown at 85 West St. is another hotel that had to evacuate its guests on Oct. 28 and then was flooded. Its basement and lobby areas were damaged but none of the guest rooms were affected. Though the hotel is still being repaired, it reopened on Monday, Nov. 12 with limited services. There is no Internet or outgoing phone service. Restaurant and in-room dining services are also not available. The hotel is trying to compensate by serving complimentary coffee and muffins in the lobby. “We have made modest rate reductions in comparison with our other full-service Marriott hotels in the city,” said Kathy Duffy, director of public relations for the NYC Marriott hotels. “Occupancy has been very good since last week,” she said in an email on Nov. 19. According to Duffy, fullservice hotels usually experience a slight dip in occupancy in the week leading into Thanksgiving. But the Wednesday before Thanksgiving “is the start of the holiday season, for which New York Marriott
Photo by Terese Loeb Kreuzer
Jeff Miller, general manager of the Andaz Wall Street hotel at 75 Wall St. in the lobby of the hotel, which was being repaired after being damaged by Superstorm Sandy. The hotel was evacuated on Oct. 28 and reopened to guests on Nov. 11.
November 21 - November 27, 2012
Closed & reopened For the second time in two years, the staff of the National Museum of the American Indian housed in the grand Beaux Arts building at Bowling Green was faced with a storm emergency. As had happened during Tropical Storm Irene last year, the approach of Sandy necessitated moving the first-floor exhibits to higher floors of the building in case of a storm surge. Working through the night of October 29, a team led by Deputy Assistant Director Peter Brill removed 10 life-size mannequins from the Diker Pavilion’s “Circle of Dance” exhibition and carried them to safety. “The rescue was high drama,” said the museum’s director, Kevin Gover. “At 6 p.m., Consolidated Edison cut off the steam supply to Lower Manhattan, putting the museum building — the historic, old custom house — on back-up generators. During the evening, the building’s steps became a benchmark for television reporters, as the storm surge in New York Harbor overran Battery Park and lapped higher and higher at the base of Broadway. At the peak of high tide, the surge reached 13.3 feet.” He said the surge beat the previous historic high of more than 12 feet recorded in 1821. Gover said that the water breached the
Photo by Terese Loeb Kreuzer
NATIONAL MUSEUM OF THE AMERICAN INDIAN
sub-basement of the custom house, but it quickly receded. “Deputy Assistant Director Scott Merritt confirmed gallery humidity and temperature readings are within normal ranges and stable,” he said. They continue to be monitored. Superstorm Sandy knocked out the power, steam heat and the telecommunications system in the building but there was no permanent damage to the museum’s quarters or to the museum’s collection.
Although power was restored to the building on Sunday, Nov. 4, until heat and telecommunications were back, the museum was unable to open to the public. That finally happened on Nov. 14. The museum’s exciting, once-a-year art market featuring Native American craftsmen and artists from many parts of the United States and beyond is coming up on Dec. 1 and 2. A ticketed preview party on Nov. 30 from 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. will feature Native
foods and wines, and a demonstration by award-winning beadworker Juanita Growing Thunder (Assiniboine-Sioux). This year’s market includes silver, semi-precious jewelry, ceramics, fine apparel, hand-woven baskets, traditional beadwork, dolls dressed in Native regalia, and paintings, prints and sculpture. To buy tickets, go to http://go.si.edu/artmarket, and use the discount code Downtown. Admission to the art market on Dec. 1 and 2 is free. — Terese Loeb Kreuzer
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November 21 - November 27, 2012