VOLUME 29, NUMBER 25
Count on us Fidi residents demand city fund traffic study
BY COLIN MIXSON Fidi residents fed-up with constant gridlock and towering trash piles are soliciting signatures for a petition demanding that the city fund a study measuring just how crowded Downtown’s streets and sidewalks have gotten after decades of breakneck growth. Quantifying the swirling deluge of car, truck and foot traffic in Lower Manhattan is a key first step in unraveling the quagmire of Downtown’s traffic woes, the petition’s author argues. “We realized that no one knows how many vehicles or pedestrians there are,” said resident and Financial District Neighborhood Association member Paul Proulx. “We know that there are a lot of ways that we could make our neighborhood better, but how can we propose solutions without a comprehensive study of the problem?” The so-called Manhattan Tip is the city’s oldest neighborhood, and the layout of its current streetscape dates back to the colonial era, when horses, buggies, and the occasional wheelbarrow comprised the sum total of ye olde traffic pattern. Now, as Manhattan Tip neighborhoods undergo an unprecedented residential boom — with the Financial District in particular experiencing the fastest residential growth in the city — the area’s narrow, disjointed streetscape, coupled with rampant construction, is becoming a serious liability to locals’ quality of life, according to Proulx, who expects the problems to only worsen as more newcomers pile into to the towering luxury condos currently on the rise. Traffic jams aside, massive garbage piles — which will increase by 19 tons come 2019 — left to rot on Manhattan Tip’s narrow sidewalks are among the collateral damage locals fear, as gridlock stalls garbage trucks, which in turn worsens traffic on thin streets that forbid passing. And lingering garbage piles occupy valuable real estate on Downtown’s slim sidewalks, forcing pedestrians to spill out onto the street, which then creates obstacles for drivers, thereby further compounding the traffic issues that plague the area. Tight security cordons, construction, scaffolding, sidewalk sheds, and placard parking found through Manhattan Tip present additional obstatraffic study Continued on page 14
DECEMBER 15 – DECEMBER 28, 2016
Two minutes to MELTDOWN
Sparks fly at BPCA’s first ‘experiment’ with public comment at board meeting
BY BILL EGBERT It was called “an experiment,” and though no test tubes exploded, the first-ever public comment session at the Battery Park City Authority’s December board meeting did cause tempers to flare. Residents and elected officials had lobbied for months to convince the BPCA to allow public comment at board meetings — as do many similar state and city authorities — and pushed back against the board’s compromise measure to allow only elected officials to speak during meetings. The BPCA finally relented in a surprise move at its October meeting, voting unanimously to allow members of the public to speak for two minutes each, provided they register for time ahead of the meeting. Only six people had signed up to speak, at the Dec. 7 meeting, and of them only three were actually able to show up — a problem that one of the registered speakers, Community Board 1 member Tammy Meltzer, predicted for meetings scheduled during the workday. “BPCA meetings are very difficult for most residents to get to,” she said before the board convened last week, adding that allowing public comments should help make the BPCA more responsive
Photo by Bill Egbert
The first member of the public ever allowed to comment at a BPCA board meeting, a Cove Club resident who identified herself as “Jeanette,” got into an argument with chairman Dennis Mehiel over the strict two-minute time limit. Seated are the other two residents who spoke at the Dec. 7 meeting, Tammy Meltzer, at right, and Justine Cuccia.
to residents, but is only part of the solution to the Albany-appointed board’s notorious detachment. “This is an important step, but it’s only part of what’s needed.” While the invitation for public comment may not have prompted a mob of villagers with torches, it
1 M e t r o t e c h • N YC 112 0 1 • C o p y r i g h t © 2 0 16 N YC C o mm u n i t y M e d i a , L L C
didn’t take long for tempers to flare when the limits of the BPCA’s concession were felt. The first member of the public ever allowed to speak at a BPCA board meeting was a Cove Club comment Continued on page 13
Lowering the boom
City faults operator in February’s deadly crane collapse in Tribeca
BY COLIN MIXSON An investigation by the Department of Buildings has concluded that the blame for the deadly Tribeca crane collapse last February falls squarely on the shoulders of its operator, who failed to batten down the machine on the night before the crash, before lowering its main boom at an improper angle prior to its harrowing fall. The agency has temporarily suspended the man’s license to work as a crane operator, and will take the additional step of advocating that the Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings move to revoke his privilege to operate cranes on a permanent basis, according to the city’s chief buildings honcho. “The crane operator involved in this incident acted recklessly, with tragic results,” said buildings commissioner Rick Chandler. “The actions we’re taking should send the message to everyone in the construction industry that safety
must come first.” The city’s findings follow a separate investigation conducted by the U.S. Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration released in September, which nailed contractor Galasso Trucking and Rigging with two violations related to the deadly crash, carrying fines totaling $22,448. Specifically, the federal investigators found that Galasso failed to react to the severe wind gusts blowing at the time of the accident, and that the hoist’s boom was lowered below the 75-degree limit specified by the manufacturer. Operators had dropped the boom to a parlous 69.4-degree angle before it fell over on Feb. 5, killing one man and injuring three other people. The DOB’s action is specifically against the crane’s operator, who was in the cab controlling the machine of the day of the accident, according to an agency spokesman. The city has not
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December 15 - 28, 2016
File photo by Milo Hess
The city has faulted the crane operator in the February collapse in Tribeca that killed one man and injured three other people.
yet taken any actions against Galasso, he said. During an interview with the Department of Buildings on May 16, the crane operator, Kevin Reilly, described the moment when, as he was attempting to place the crane in a “Jack Knife” position, it began to topple. “As I turn around, I feel the machine move,” Reilly told the DOB, according to the city’s investigation report. “I look back out the window, and the f*****g thing [sic] coming up. So I try to luff back, and it just went down.” In addition to claiming the life of Upper West Side mathematician David Wichs, the collapse seriously injured three other bystanders in its plummet onto Worth St. between West Broadway and Church St. The DOB is currently in the process of implementing 23 recommendations that a technical working group formed by Mayor de Blasio released in June in response to the collapse. The new rules include: • Requiring mobile cranes to be fitted with wind measuring devices, called anemometers, which record real-time wind readings. • Requiring contractors to hire “onsite lift coordinators” with the authority to shutdown crane operations in the event of unsafe conditions. • Restricting mobile crane operations whenever winds exceed 30 miles per hour. • Requiring crane operators to secure cranes when not in use as per a specified “wind-action plan,” which includes retracted, jackknifed, and laiddown positions.
File photo by Milo Hess
The cab of the massive crawler crane flipped when the boom fell across nearly two blocks of Worth St. in Tribeca
TOP DRIVER DISTRACTIONS Using mobile phones
Leading the list of the top distractions behind the wheel are mobile phones. Phones now do more than just place calls, and drivers often cannot pull away from their phones, even when driving. According to the California Department of Motor Vehicles, studies have shown that driving performance is lowered and the level of distraction is higher for drivers who are heavily engaged in cell
phone conversations. The use of a hands-free device does not lower distraction levels. The percentage of vehicle crashes and nearcrashes attributed to dialing is nearly identical to the number associated with talking or listening.
Many people will admit to daydreaming behind the wheel or looking at a person or object outside of the car for too long. Per-
haps they’re checking out a house in a new neighborhood or thought they saw someone they knew on the street corner. It can be easy to veer into the direction your eyes are focused, causing an accident. In addition to trying to stay focused on the road, some drivers prefer the help of lane departure warning systems.
Those who haven’t quite mastered walking and
chewing gum at the same time may want to avoid eating while driving. The majority of foods require a person’s hands to be taken off of the wheel and their eyes to be diverted from the road. Reaching in the back seat to share some French fries with the kids is also distracting. Try to eat meals before getting in the car. For those who must snack while en route, take a moment to pull over at
a rest area and spend 10 minutes snacking there before resuming the trip.
Glancing at an advertisement, updating a Facebook status or reading a book are all activities that should be avoided when driving. Even pouring over a traffic map or consulting the digital display of a GPS system can be distracting.
December 15 - 28, 2016
Wagner wrangling CB1 committee pushes back on proposals for BPC’s backyard
BY DENNIS LYNCH Battery Park Citizens worry they may lose a precious redoubt in Wagner Park after seeing some of the proposed resiliency measures and park improvements that the Battery Park City Authority presented to Community Board 1’s Battery Park City Committee that would keep out storm surges, but likely bring in far more tourists. Architect Stanton Eckstut, the original master planner of BPC and now a principal at Perkins Eastman presented the results of his firm’s study of the park at the committee’s Dec. 6 meeting, and he offered two sets of preliminary objectives — those to make Wagner Park more resistant to storm surges, and those to make it more inviting to visitors. Most people at the meeting agreed that the park should be made more resilient, and agreed with Eckstut that grading the lawns upward from the waterfront and installing a semi-permanent
flood wall were appropriate changes, but they were less enthusiastic about the other suggestions from Eckstut’s team. Those suggestions were said to be based on an April survey taken by 414 people — but only 268, or a about two thirds, were BPC residents — and on conversations with local stakeholders. Less than a third of survey respondents wanted more food and beverage options and more activity programming, but nonetheless, Eckstut and his team suggested creating more restaurant space and adding infrastructure for boat access at the waterfront. He also said the Esplanade could be connected to Pier A to facilitate the flow of people and suggested the park could be reconfigured in some ways to make the park more pedestrian friendly. But several CB1 members worried that some of those changes, particularly connecting to Pier A, would serve only to attract more tourists to Wagner Park and the Esplanade, which many BPC
Map by Kevin McCabe
This map shows the extent of flooding in Wagner Park during 2012’s Hurricane Sandy, and the location of a possible new barrier that may prevent a recurrence.
residents see as their last safe havens in a neighborhood that feels increasingly besieged by outsiders. “It’s the one place that has less activity, and that’s a good thing,” said BPC Committee chairwoman Ninfa Segarra. “I like the fact that tourists can’t figure out how to get from Pier A over to us because it limits [traffic]. The truth is we’re overwhelmed here with tourists,” Segarra highlighted the increasing
conflict between managing the public spaces of BPC in the interests of residents versus the interests of tourists and the city’s economy. “We understand its great for the city, great for the economy,” she said, “but the volume has become a real quality-of-life issue.” One Battery Park City resident wagner park Continued on page 6
Keeping New Yorkers in their homes prevents homelessness. Yet too many renters face eviction in housing court with no resources or tools to ﬁght back. And they usually lose. That’s because 70% of tenants don’t have a lawyer, but 90% of landlords do. Join AARP New York in calling on Mayor Bill de Blasio to support the Right to Counsel bill (Intro. 214-A), which would guarantee legal counsel for low-income tenants facing eviction in New York City Housing Court. Right to Counsel is fair and ﬁscally responsible. Preventing wrongful evictions can save taxpayers $320 million a year by keeping people in their homes and out of expensive homeless services.
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December 15 - 28, 2016
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RIP ‘Mr. Downtown’
Robert Douglass, Lower Manhattan’s great champion for decades, dies at 85
BY BILL EGBERT Robert Douglass, founding chairman of the Alliance for Downtown New York and a driving force behind the building of Battery Park City and the original World Trade Center, died on Dec. 6. He was 85 years old. Douglass served as Gov. Nelson Rockefeller’s Counsel and Secretary in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and helped lay the groundwork for the Twin Towers and the creation of the statecontrolled addition to Manhattan, as well as helping David Rockefeller’s Dow ntow n-Lower Manhattan Association launch the revitalization of Downtown, before helping to found the Downtown Alliance and leading from its inception in 1995 through 2015 — a career that earned him the monicker “Mr. Downtown.” “He was a giant and a gentleman, and it is nearly impossible to overstate his influence on this neighborhood,” said Downtown Alliance President Jessica Lappin. “For more than 30 years, he championed Lower Manhattan’s growth, and played a significant part in its recovery after the 9/11 attacks. As an advocate for businesses and residents, he has helped articulate a compelling vision for a Lower Manhattan for the 21st century. Lower Manhattan simply would not be what it is today without him.” Douglass was an early advocate of converting Downtown’s vacant office space into residential buildings, an ongoing process that has transformed Lower Manhattan from a fading commercial district into the fastest-growing neighborhood in the city, and one of the most dynamic. As chairman of the Downtown Alliance and lifetime director of the D-LMA, Douglass was one of Downtown’s most effective boosters — especially in the wake of the 9/11 attacks — and helped ensure that Lower Manhattan came back better than ever from the catastrophe. In 2005, Gov. George Pataki appoint-
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Robert Douglass, founding chairman of the Alliance for Downtown New York, died on Dec. 6.
ed Douglass to the board of the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, charged with managing the post-9/11 rebuilding of Downtown, describing him as “a tireless advocate for Lower Manhattan for decades” and a “dynamic, committed leader who brings the vision, experience and expertise to ensure that we realize the Master Site Plan for the World Trade Center and ensure that Lower Manhattan remains the financial capital of the world for generations to come.” The day after Douglass’s death, the LMDC and the board of the Battery Park City Authority both voted to recommend renaming the upcoming West Thames Street Pedestrian Bridge in his honor. After he received the Liberty Award at the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council’s annual gala in 2012, Douglass described Lower Manhattan’s extraordinary recovery after the 9/11 attacks and added: “I consider myself the luckiest guy in the world to have had the opportunity to play a part in this incredible transformation.”
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December 15 - 28, 2016
Car-sharing at BPC building Famously green luxury rental complex offers residents electric BMW rentals BY COLIN MIXSON A car-sharing service previously only available in Seattle, Portland and Brooklyn made its Downtown debut on Dec. 8 at the Solaire building on River Terrace, marking Battery Park City as the hippest neighborhood in Manhattan. Reach Now, the American branch of German car manufacturer BMW’s car-sharing subsidiary, brought a small fleet of Beamers to the swank riverfront building in what could eventually become one of the main ways Manhattanites get around. Use of the six BMWs — including two of its 3 Series, an entry-level luxury sedan, along with four of its batterypowered coupes, the i3 — will be exclusive to renters at the Solaire and Verdesian buildings. If the rental service is a success there, Reach Now plans to expand to other buildings throughout Lower Manhattan, according to the CEO. “We’re starting here at the Solaire, but talking to other developers to see if there are other places in Lower Manhattan where we can put small fleets that are dedicated to the people that live in those buildings, or potentially even with office buildings for people who work there,” said Reach Now CEO Steven Banfield. The Seattle-based BMW subsidiary
recently launched its first foray to the East Coast in Brooklyn as a free-floating rental service, where patrons can pick up and drop off vehicles at any legal parking spot within the rental service’s designated “Home Area.” Parking concerns, however, have prevented Reach Now from bringing a freefloating service to Downtown, leading the company to opt for its more limited, building-based “Fleet Solutions” model now available at the Solaire as its best way to expand in Manhattan, Banfield said. That doesn’t mean a free-floating service is entirely off the table, and the company plans on testifying at an upcoming City Council transportation committee hearing along with other representatives of the car sharing industry on Dec. 12, where the challenges of and solutions to bringing Reach Now to Manhattan streets will be discussed. “We certainly would love to look at bringing a service like this to Manhattan, but due to the parking regulations and the complexity of parking here, we’d really have to work closely with the city and we want to be a partner with that,” Banfield explained. BMW chose to debut Reach Now at the Solaire in large part due to the building’s high rating with the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design
wagner park Continued from page 4
materialize. Funding is not in place for much of the project, nor is there a clear vision of what exactly the resiliency plan will entail. The BPCA should wait until that plan comes together so it can fit its plan for Wagner Park and the rest of the neighborhood into it, otherwise it could complicate the larger resiliency project, board member Tammy Meltzer said. “It would be a shame to have whatever is done for Battery Park City hurried and done within five years, and the city comes along in 10 and says it has to be integrated and changed,” Meltzer said. Eckstut said he wasn’t putting the
echoed that sentiment the next day at the first BPCA meeting to allow public comment. The Cove Club resident objected to the BPCA’s proposal to pave a green cul-de-sac at the end of South End Ave. near her building to create a public pedestrian plaza on the grounds that it would only serve to attract more tourists to the neighborhood. Some board members also took issue with the resiliency proposals — or at least the timing of them. The city, state, and federal governments have undertaken a massive resiliency plan for much of Manhattan, but a detailed blueprint for Lower Manhattan has been slow to
December 15 - 28, 2016
Photo by Bill Egbert
Downtown Express reporter Colin Mixson, at left, took one of the Solaire’s BMW i3 Series electric cars for a spin around Lower Manhattan with BMW’s Marvin Pueth, at right, whose actual tile, seriously — on his business card — is “Master of Science.”
(LEED) program, which jived well with the German carmaker’s new focus on environmentally friendly electric autos, according to a spokesman. “We’re focused on mobility services, sustainable solutions, and that kind of thing, so they’re of a like-mind that BMW and Reach Now are rooted in,” said Phil DiIanni. The service costs renters 49 cents for each minute the car is in use,
and 30-cents when parked. Registering with Reach Now requires a one-time fee of $39. Solaire and Verdesian residents use an app to reserve one of the Beamers, and then go downstairs to pick it up from the parking valet who brings it up from the underground garage. A keyless system allows the renters to unlock and start the cars with the same keycards they use to get into their buildings.
cart before the horse. The huge undertaking of making Manhattan more resilient means projects will inevitably develop separately and at different paces, he said. “I deal with a lot of large-scale projects. You can’t wait until everything is all solved,” he said. “What is important is that you’re consistent with policy, reaching out, and informing the people. But things are going to be done, whether by the authority or other entities in different time periods, its very real with anything this large.” BPCA spokesman Nick Sbordone said in a statement that “doing nothing was not an option” and that in the
effort to make the park more resilient, “we also want to make sure to make the park and buildings within it as inclusive of residents interests as we can — as evidenced by the questions included in our Wagner Park survey and the series of ongoing public forums on the topic.” Eckstut admitted he was surprised to hear the opposition to some of the nonresiliency suggestions for the park, but that he was “all for” further engagement to inform his proposals. Locals will next get a chance to do that sometime early next year at a planned public discussion and feedback session hosted by the BPCA. Feedback can also be directed at firstname.lastname@example.org. DowntownExpress.com
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December 15 - 28, 2016
Big sale at Brookfield Place
Developers of posh BPC shopping center putting 49-percent stake on block for $2.45B BY DENNIS LYNCH Brookfield Properties plans to sell off as much as a 49-percent stake in its eight-million-square-foot Brookfield Place luxury shopping and office complex for $2.45 billion in what would be one of the biggest real estate transactions in Downtown’s history. But the massive sale, first reported by the New York Post, doesn’t mean that Brookfield is cashing out and heading off to greener pastures — rather it’s likely a move to cash in on Downtown’s potent future as Manhattan’s fastest growing residential and tourist destination, according to local real estate experts. “What the Financial District lacked in the past was retail and restaurants, and within the next year it’s going to be one of the top retail destinations in the country, and a dining destination in its own right, and that’s really exciting stuff. That’s what they’re selling to potential investors,” said Fidi maven Luis Vazquez of Keller Williams Real Estate.
This move appears to have been in Brookfield’s plans all along. In 2011, the global real estate developer sunk $250 million to overhaul and rebrand the former World Financial Center to attract a more diverse set of tenants, such as tech and media companies, to its office towers and luxury retailers to its shopping center. And in 2014, Brookfield Properties CEO Ric Clark said his company would look to “bring in a partner” once it leased most or all of the complex, according to Bloomberg. It’s not exactly a tough sell. The buyer would get a non-controlling stake in a complex of five office towers with marquee tenants such as Time, Inc., sitting atop 300,000 square feet of high-end retail including such brands as Burberry, Gucci, and, most recently, Saks Fifth Avenue as well as the posh French food market Le District. And ongoing developments in the area point to lots of upside. Brookfield expects crowds to continue to grow now that the grand Westfield World Trade Center mall has
The developer of the Brookfield Place luxury shopping and office complex plans to sell off up to a 49-percent stake for $2.45 billion in what would be one of the biggest real estate transactions in Downtown’s history.
opened at the nearby Oculus, and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority has completed the concourse connecting it to the Fulton Center mall. “Awareness is up and foot traffic at Brookfield Place has sharply increased” since the Westfield WTC project opened, said Brookfield’s senior vice president of retail leasing Michael Goldban. Along with the busloads of tourists pouring into the neighborhood to shop and to visit the National September 11 Memorial and Museum, the shopping centers also attract the thousands of people who have moved into the neighborhood over the last two decades. The residential population in
Community District 1 — encompassing the Financial District, Battery Park City, and Tribeca — has soared from just over 25,000 in 1990 to over 60,000 in 2010. Community Board 1 estimates the current population in the district to be around 69,500 based on the addition of rental units since then, and projects a seven-percent growth to just under 74,000 in 2017. The population of free-spending young professionals in particular has surged. There are more than 30,000 living in lower Manhattan, according to the Downtown Alliance, and their Brookfield Continued on page 13
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December 15 - 28, 2016
File photo by Milo Hess
The owners of Brookfield Place say the recent opening of Westfield’s nearby mall under the iconic Oculus has actually boosted foot traffic at their luxury shopping center on the other side of West St. DowntownExpress.com
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CB1 working group mulling closure of Edgar St. for new Trinity Place School BY COLIN MIXSON Members of Community Board 1 are working overtime on a proposal to close down all or part of a tiny, little-used street to provide a safe spot for students of the upcoming Trinity Place School to pile out of buses and evacuate in case of emergencies — not to mention play during recess. The panel is organizing a working group to formulate a recommendation on the proposal — which was originally floated by the chairwoman of CB1’s Youth and Education Committee, Tricia Joyce — in time for a January meeting of the School Overcrowding Task Force. Joyce said she came up with the idea after she realized that the current plans for outdoor space at the school were not adequate. “All they have is this roughly 650-square-foot courtyard. That’s tiny and it’s not adequate for drop-off and
pickup for the school,” said Joyce, who joined the working group. “A plan has to be in place by the time this opens.” Her proposal calls for the permanent closure and repaving of either both lanes of Edgar St. between Greenwhich St. and Trinity Pl., or just the westbound lane and median, leaving the eastbound lane open for traffic. Edgar St. is only about 25 feet long and exists entirely between Greenwhich St. and Trinity Pl. beside the site of the upcoming school. Just closing the short street in the morning and afternoon for pickups and drop-offs would not be sufficient, according to Joyce, who said kids also need a safe place to evacuate in the event of a fire drill, or — god forbid — an actual fire. “This is not an amenity, this is school safety,” said Joyce. “This school needs a plan for fire-drill evacuation and overall school safety.”
With a new elementary school planned for the site on the right, there’s a growing push to close Edgar St. and make it part of the plaza on the left to give students at the upcoming Trinity Place School more outdoor recreational space.
Both proponents and critics of the plan agree that traffic in the area is a nightmare, and Trinity Pl. in particular can look like a speedway thanks to traffic whizzing out of the nearby BrooklynBattery Tunnel. But that agreement about traffic will likely fuel division of closing Edgar St., with fans of closing it citing concerns for kids’ safety, and detractors worrying that the closure would cause further gridlock in an already congested area, according to the chairwoman of CB1’s Quality of Life Committee. “It seems obvious to me that any
closures of any streets in our area is detrimental to all of us who live and work there,” said Pat Moore, who lives on nearby Greenwhich St. and also volunteered for the working group. ”At the moment, it doesn’t seem like a workable idea for the surrounding area.” The proposal is in the earliest stages of planning and volunteers for the working group, even those with serious reservations, expressed a willingness to keep an open mind to the needs of future students, Moore said. edgar st. Continued on page 14
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Pistol-packing Sanit worker fails his most important test BY COLIN MIXSON A city worker was busted for allegedly strolling into a Beaver St. Sanitation Department testing facility on Dec. 2 packing an unlicensed handgun — with a bullet in the chamber, locked and loaded. The suspect is not accused of any ill intentions, but was suspected of being none too bright for passing his firearm through the building’s security system, according to a police source. “I don’t know how stupid you have to be, but he was stupid enough to get caught,” said an officer familiar with the incident. The suspect was passing through security at the city-owned sanitation
facility between Broad and William Sts. at 10:30 a.m., when a guard stopped him and pulled a .22 caliber firearm out his bag, according to complaint documents provided by District Attorney Cyrus Vance’s office. Upon further inspection, the guard discovered the weapon was fully loaded, with five cartridges in the magazine and one in the chamber, the documents show. The suspect has been released on $5,000 bail, and is being charged with criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree. The Legal Aid attorney representing the defendant did not return calls for comment.
DOUBLE DIPPING A thief stole a man’s tools — on two separate occasions — out of a gang box at a Leonard St. construction site sometime after Dec. 2. The victim told police that he left his kit locked up at the work site between Church St. and W. Broadway at 3:30 p.m., and returned four days later to find the box had been looted. After he alerted his boss to the theft, the manager gave him a set of company tools to borrow, which he returned after work to the same gang box that had been looted the earlier, according to police. Returning the next day, the man was amazed to find that the company tools he’d borrowed had been stolen as well, cops said.
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A thief nabbed an Apple laptop from a Pearl St. nightclub on Dec. 9. The victim told police that he left his MacBook Pro inside the manager’s office of the watering hole between Coenties Alley and William St. at 10 a.m., and returned the following day to find it stolen. The victim suspects an inside job, as only employees had access to the man58251NYPD ager’s office where the $2,000 device CNG #1 was nabbed, cops said.
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Cops busted two alleged thieves suspected of nabbing a pricey fur coat from a Wooster St. fashion boutique on Dec. 9. An employee told police the suspects were spotted inside the shop between Prince and W. Houston Sts. at 5:30 p.m, when they proceeded to nab the $2,150 coat and flee.
BIKE BANDIT Cops are hunting the thief who nabbed a bicycle locked up outside a Hudson St. apartment building on Dec. 2. The victim told police that she chained up her bike outside her home between Leonard and Franklin Sts. at 10:30 p.m., and returned early the next morning to find that some crook had taken it for a ride.
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A shoplifter nabbed two designer handbags off a mannequin from inside a Greene St. fashion store on Dec. 8. Surveillance footage shows the thief waltz into the clothing boutique between Broom and Spring Sts. at 1:45
p.m., before liberating a mannequin there of two Versace bags worth a grand total of $1,100, before taking his leave without paying.
RAZOR SHARP A crook nabbed nearly $1,500 worth of razors and shaving paraphernalia from a Broadway drug store on Dec. 10. An employee told police that the crook strode into the pharmacy between Murray St. and Park Pl. at 5:40 p.m., and used a key to unlock a display case containing the plethora of Gillettebrand shaving stuff, which he proceeded to loot before dashing out past the register.
LUNCH RUSH A fast-acting pickpocket managed to nab a woman’s wallet as she dined inside a Pine St. eatery on Dec. 2. The victim told police that she had her wallet when she walked into the restaurant between Pearl and Water Sts. at 12:15 p.m., but that when she went to pay for her meal, her valuables were missing. The victim immediately called her bank from the eatery and discovered that, not only did the thief manage to steal her wallet while she ate, he also managed to use her debit card to make illicit charges across the street before she finished her meal, cops said.
JACKET RACKET A shoplifter nabbed more than $3,000 worth of jackets from a Broome St. boutique on Dec. 1. An employee told police that the crook waltzed into the fashion outlet between Mercer and Greene Sts. at 10:27 a.m. and proceeded to grab two ritzy coats off the rack, before strolling out the door with his ill-gotten outerwear.
BUNGLING BURGLAR A dim-witted thief managed to break his way into a Mercer St. shop on Nov. 23, but couldn’t quite manage to get his hands on the cash inside. Surveillance footage shows the crook bust into the store between Broome and Spring Sts. through a window at 2:05 a.m. before failing to weasel his way into the shop’s cash reserves located beneath a front counter. Unable to breach the obstinate cupboard, the thief fled none the richer, cops said. — Colin Mixson
Brookfield Place Continued from page 8
wallets are ripe to be tapped by local retailers. These young professionals spend more than $350 million each year on dining and entertainment, but options Downtown appear to be lagging somewhat behind their needs, leading this coveted cohort to spend half of that money outside the neighborhood, according to a recent study by the business improvement district. More shops, restaurants and venues that cater to Downtown’s booming young professionals would keep more of their money in the neighborhood. Some of those are in the works, such as the Ron Perelman Center for Performing Arts at The World Trade Center and the upcoming Pier 17 complex at the revamped Seaport, set to open in 2020 and 2017, respectively. It will take both large-scale prestige projects and attractive street-level investments to keep young people in the neighborhood, said Downtown Alliance President Jessica Lappin. Young folks want bars and restaurants where they can feel “comfortable and casual” and enjoy hopping from place to place — dinner here, drinks down the street. Such confluences are coming together organically around the neighborhood, Lappin said, and recalled recently witnessing the vibrant
comment Continued from page 1
resident who gave her name only as “Jeanette” (but was later identified by the Broadsheet as Jeanette Wyman) and objected to the plan to pave the culde-sac at the end of South End Ave. to make a pedestrian plaza that she feared would only serve to draw tourists. She said at the outset that she had four topics she wanted to address, but was barely through her comment on the cul-de-sac when she hit the two-minute limit. BPCA board chairman Dennis Mehiel invited her to add her written comments to the record, but having made time to attend the 10 a.m. meeting, Jeanette wanted to press on. “If I could be allowed a couple more minutes out of respect,” she said. “Whatever your allocated time is, you’re welcome to use it as you see fit,” replied Mehiel before confirming with the timekeeper that her two minutes were up. “Do you think that two minutes is even appropriate?” asked Jeanette. “We put a protocol in place,” said Mehiel. “We have to stay with the protocol.” Jeanette pushed back, asking that the DowntownExpress.com
scene at one such “pocket” near Rector and Washington Sts. “Here’s a little local strip that was somewhat forlorn not too long ago, and some would say that’s a little thing, but I don’t think that’s a little thing,” Lappin said. “If you open a place that people want to hang out [at] and have a beer with friends, or a restaurant that people love to come to, those are things that are coming to the neighborhood that are changing positively, and that’s happening in pockets everywhere.” On the other side of the island from Brookfield Place, the Howard Hughes Corp. is intent on catering both to new residents near its re-imagined South Street Seaport and to visitors from outside the neighborhood. Seaport senior general manager Philip St. Pierre said Howard Hughes wants to create “something very New York,” so the developer has brought in successful New York restaurateurs such as Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Momofuku’s David Chang, and independent bookstore McNally Jackson. The Seaport’s crowning jewel — the 300,000-square-foot retail, entertainment, and dining complex at Pier 17 — will feature a 40,000-square-foot fresh food market that St. Pierre expects will appeal to local foodies eager for a gourmet marketplace on the other side of Downtown from Le District and
time limit be extended on the grounds that two minutes wasn’t long enough for her to brief the board on all her concerns, but Mehiel was resolute. “What we don’t want to do is change this public comment protocol,” he said. “This is an experiment. We’re trying it out, and I think it’s important that we stay with the protocol.” “So then for the future, maybe you should extend it to five minutes out of respect for the people who actually pay to run this town,” said Jeanette, sounding thoroughly exasperated. “This is the first public comment, and the first meeting, and we’re in a debate about the protocol,” replied Mehiel. “We ask you to please abide by the two-minute limit.” “Okay, fine. That’s rude. Two minutes is not enough,” said Jeanette as she yielded the floor. The other two speakers clearly rushed through their tightly prepared remarks, and even they ran out of time. Meltzer praised the authority’s bikesafety working group, which recently convened to define new bicycle policies for the Esplanade, and suggested that should be a model for getting residents involved at the start of the BPCA’s deci-
Rendering by SHoP Architects
The South Street Seaport’s revamped Pier 17, set to open next year with an array of retail and fine dining, will be a further draw to Downtown.
the newly opened Eataly branch at the WTC complex. St. Pierre said Howard Hughes is betting big on the Seaport. The company has put its money where its mouth is, and pumped millions of its own money into construction instead of seeking loans or outside investors. “We’re very bullish on the Seaport. We think its best days are ahead of it and you can see it in the investments and the building that’s happening all around us, in the people that are moving here and experiencing Lower
Manhattan and the Seaport,” St. Pierre said. “They’ve known it’s here, but they’re coming down to make it their home, and finding that it’s got some of the best to offer in New York.” Even someone who has spent years elbow-deep in remaking the neighborhood can be struck by how rapidly the area has transformed. “I remember when I came down here as recent as 2013 and you’d walk around at 6:30 at night and it was hard to find a place to eat,” St. Pierre said. “That’s changed dramatically.”
sion processes on a range of issues, such as the Wagner Park renovation and the controversial plans to remake South End Ave. She also encouraged the board to turn to CB1 for information and feedback on such projects before spending money on outside consultants and surveys. Justine Cuccia, a public member of the CB1 Battery Park City Committee, echoed Meltzer request to involve residents in more working groups, but she also asked board members to encourage Gov. Cuomo, who appoints the BPCA board, to tap residents to fill the two open seats on the board, which currently includes only one person who actually lives in BPC, Martha Gallo. “There is no shortage of qualified people living here,” she said. Cuccia also implored the board to extend the ground lease past its current end in 2069, and roll back ground rents to preserve BPC as “a middle class residential district.” The entire public comment “experiment” took just a few minutes at the end of an hour-long meeting, and Jeanette’s joust with Mehiel about the protocol lasted longer than her two-minute comment.
According to the scientific method, of course, Mehiel was correct to emphasize that one must strictly adhere to rigid protocols laid out beforehand for a controlled experiment to produce valid results. But scientists conduct experiments with the aim of proving a hypothesis, and it’s not clear what hypothesis Mehiel was trying to prove. If the aim was to show that allowing public comment would cause more strife than it would resolve, the experiment might be considered a success. But any attempt by the BPCA board to put the public comment genie back in the bottle would surely meet fierce backlash from both residents and electeds. Borough President Gale Brewer, who had lobbied the board to allow public comment, attended the meeting to witness the historic first session. Though she didn’t request time for herself, Mehiel invited her to speak anyway. Brewer applauded the board for inviting residents to speak, but took him to task for his apparently tentative embrace of the new policy. “Thank you for doing this, and I hope you continue. It’s not an experiment,” she said. “It’s a good thing.” December 15 - 28, 2016
traffic study Continued from page 1
cles to traffic in the area. “The idea is that everything is related to everything else,” Proulx said. Proulx and the Fidi Neighborhood Association’s petition comes on the heels of a Community Board 1 resolution requesting further analysis of Downtown traffic patterns by the city, and a June 2016 streetscape study, created by a community planning fellow of the Fund of the City of New York, which noted that Lower Manhattan hasn’t
edgar st. Continued from page 10
“I’m joining the group to hear why they need this pickup and drop-off space,” she said. “If I disagree with it, I will certainly voice my opinion… If they can prove it will not impact the flow of traffic, I might go ahead with it.” The Edgar St. proposal was prompted in large part by lessons learned at the Peck Slip School, which suffered numerous planning woes, including inadequate recreation space, with a combined gym and auditorium — called a gymnatorium — that essentially halved the amount of space for athletic and creative activities available to students.
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seen a comprehensive study of development since 2007, predating the unprecedented residential boom of today. “In order to continue the success of the last several years, and to benefit from increased residential development and the businesses and services that come along with that, we need to start resolving these issues today,” Proulx said. Anyone interested in supporting the effort can sign the petition at: campaigns.transalt.org/petition/lower-manhattan-mobility-study.
The activity-space shortage at the Peck Slip School led to the closure of a nearby street as a “play street” — an effort that got bogged down by conflicts with a nearby parking garage, and which parents argued should have been dealt with before the school opened. As a result, local activists are being a bit more proactive in identifying and finding solutions for problems that, in the past, they might have left up to the city, Joyce said. “I would expect that this is something that should be carefully planned for before the design phase,” Joyce said. “That’s largely completed, and we are casing solutions after the fact, but we’re getting faster.” SAME DAY SERVICE AVAILABLE
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ALTERNATE SIDE PARKING RULES IN EFFECT ALL WEEK
Gridlock alert Thursday, Friday, and Wednesday of next week — and that means roads will be extra-extra busy with shoppers, tourists, holiday-partyers, and early-bird Christmas vacationers. On those days, Transit Sam wants YOU to take transit. Not quite as infrequent as syzygy (look it up) but we’ve got back-toback NFL games this weekend! The Dolphins head up to the Meadowlands to take on the Jets at noon on Saturday. On Sunday, the Giants, coming off a big win versus the Cowboys, will tackle the Lions in a 1 p.m. kickoff at MetLife. Although official attendance for the latest Jets’ game was 78,000 I doubt if 50,000 actually showed up. Nonetheless, it’s enough to cause turbulence at the Lincoln Tunnel, sending spillover traffic to the Holland. It will be the return home that will be particularly bad on Saturday from 4–5 p.m. as fans hit the tunnels along with Jerseyites shopping, dining and touring the Big Apple. Sunday, the Cowboys-slaying Giants are expected to draw 80,000+ fans as they face the Lions. Pre-game traffic will hit the Hudson starting at 10:30 a.m., and post-game at about 5 p.m. Sunday at the Hudson will not be pretty.
While the city declared weekday Gridlock Alert Days, I’m declaring the weekends from now until New Year’s as Pedlock Alert Days! With Christmas next week, holiday shopping will peak for the weekend. Many shoppers are giving Trumplocked Fifth Ave. stores the cold shoulder and opting for Lower Manhattan. Hordes of pedestrians will jam the streets of Soho, NoHo, Little Italy, Nolita, and Chinatown, rendering them impassable to cars — and almost as impassable to walkers. PATH service will be suspended at 33rd, 23rd, 14th, 9th, and Christopher Sts., but free shuttles offer alternatives. This will be in effect weekends, from midnight Saturday through Monday. Between Newark and the World Trade Center, as well as Journal Square and Hoboken, PATH will be on its normal schedule, but look out for special weekend service between Hoboken and the World Trade Center! Skip holiday tumult and the parking tickets, and gift your friends and family the 2017 Gridlock Sam calendar. It’s now available at www.gridlocksam. com. You can download for free, or get your copy in print for just shipping and handling: 1 calendar for $4, 5 for $5, and 10 for $6. You can use PayPal or write out your check to Gridlock Sam, 322 Eighth Ave., Fifth Floor, New York, NY 10001.
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Sandy repairs on 2,3 train tunnel to nix two D’town stations starting next June
BY COLIN MIXSON Downtowners who rely on the 2 and 3 trains will have to find other modes of transportation on the weekends next year, when post-Sandy repairs will require the trains bypass Park Pl.-Fulton St. and Wall St. stations, and stop heading into Brooklyn altogether. The weekend service changes will last just over a year to accommodate repairs on the more than mile-long tunnel that connects Downtown Manhattan to the quaint suburb of Brooklyn. For those looking for a quiet weekend in the Brooklyn countryside, the MTA is providing free, overland transfers between the 4 and 5 Bowling Green
stop and the 1, 2, and R trains at the Whitehall Street-South Ferry 1 station. In lieu of Wall St. service, straphangers are directed to used the station’s 4 and 5 trains, the Broad St. station’s J train, or to head to Rector St. and snag a 1, 2, or R train. The closures are expected to persist for 56 consecutive weekends beginning in June, and allow for the 1.2 mile-long Clark St. Tube tunnel — which was inundated with some 500,000 gallons of corrosive saltwater that damaged tracks, signals, and pumping, electrical and switching equipment amid the 2012 hurricane — to undergo critical repairs. DowntownExpress.com
Shedding sidewalk sheds New bill aims to crack down on scaffolding that stays up when no work is done BY COLIN MIXSON The plague of pointless scaffolding encrusting city sidewalks for years on end may finally have a cure. Property owners would have six months to shore up their aging buildings and then take down sidewalk sheds, or else face “heavy penalties” under a new bill introduced by Councilmember Ben Kallos. Area residents living under the shadow of the sidewalk sheds that have loomed over Downtown for years were overjoyed upon learning that the Upper East Side legislator is attempting to tackle the root of so many of Downtown’s quality-of-life issues, according to the president of the Financial District Neighborhood Association “I think this is a great starting point, and it’s laudable that someone is doing this,” said Patrick Kennell. The bill gives landlords three months to complete construction that requires scaffolding or sidewalk sheds for the job, along with an option to apply for an additional three-month extension. After that period expires, however, the city would be entitled to step in to complete any remaining work and take down the scaffolding, before kicking the bill back to the property owners for any costs
Photo by Bill Egbert
The long-standing scaffolding that wraps around the corner from 45 John Street onto Dutch St., has been up for nine years and created a shadowy haven for indigent addicts, neighbors say.
incurred by the city — likely in the form of liens or by garnishing landlords’ rent earnings, according to Kallos spokesman Josh Jamieson. The legislation would also give the city the right to jump in and complete the job if seven days go by without any work on the project, although in most cases
the issuance of a fine would be a more likely penalty, Jamieson explained. “The fines go into effect first, and the city reserves the right to go in and fix what it has to fix,” he said. “But after seven days the city can step in, do the work, take the shed down and bill the landlord.”
Kallos’s bill has been widely applauded by locals who have lived in the shadow of Downtown’s ubiquitous sidewalk sheds, which have been known to endure for years without purpose, and often serve as a refuge for indigent squatters, according to one Fidi resident, who lives beside a notorious 9-year-old sidewalk shed at 45 John St. “If work isn’t being done, the scaffolding should come down,” said Vicki Raikes. “It is well past time to put the financial screws on these construction companies, which otherwise pay no mind to what effect the endless ugly scaffolding has on the businesses they shield from view.” Some have questioned the strict seven-day limit Kallos’s bill would impose, which some regard as an infeasible and overly harsh imposition, according to Greenwich St. resident Pat Moore, who heads the Community Board 1 Quality of Life Committee. “I think seven days is not reasonable, I think it should be in terms of months,” she said. Other critics have dismissed the measure as unenforceable without a dramatic increase in inspectors and shedding sheds Continued on page 18
Downtown’s most unwanted The worst offenders in the plague of senseless sidewalk sheds BY COLIN MIXSON Councilmember Ben Kallos’s legislation mandating sidewalk sheds be removed within six months of going up would be a boon to the residents of Lower Manhattan, who share their narrow sidewalks with many of the longestlived construction sheds in the city. Here’s a list of the top three offenders, which have stood for years with nary a brick laid to justify their existence.
2008 financial crisis, and the building went untouched by hammer or nail for years as litigation dragged on between the developer and its German lender. During that time, the shed became a go-to refuge for local indigents, who were known to erect makeshift shanty dwellings there and advertised the sale of lewd acts for cash, according to locals.
45 John St.
The shed over the narrow sidewalk around 33 Gold St. has existed for well over a decade. City records show the property owner first applied for the shed in the halcyon days of 1998, and longtime Fidi resident Sarah El-Batanouny, who first moved to the area in 2005, can’t remember a time when the scaffolding there hasn’t loomed overhead.
The construction shed at 45 John St. between Nassau and Dutch Sts. has darkened the sidewalk beneath it for going on nine years. The scaffolding was erected in 2007 to accommodate renovations undertaken by a Delawarebased entity, 45 John Street LLC, but construction ground to halt amid the DowntownExpress.com
33 Gold St.
Photo by Andrea Kanter
The nine-year-old sidewalk shed on John St. is home to a chronic homeless encampment, where vagrants set up furniture and cardboard shanties beneath the relative sanctuary the shed provides.
Photo by Sarah Elbatanouny
The scaffolding at 33 Gold St. has been clogging the sidewalk for more than a decade.
Making matters worse, the narrow sidewalk beneath the scaffolding is often choked with massive piles of garbage, worst offenders Continued on page 18
December 15 - 28, 2016
E D ITO R IAL
Time to give scorpions their due Publisher
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December 15 - 28, 2016
ing up his arm and into his chest,” says BY LENORE SKENAZY Loria. “It was just me and him in the Stephanie Loria would like to set middle of nowhere.” the record straight: “If you get stung by Then what happened? a scorpion and you are a healthy adult, “He took an antihistamine,” says you won’t die.” She paused, then added, Loria. By the morning, he was fine — “You may wish you were dead. But they them phosphoresce like Jimi Hendrix but after an agonizing night. get such a bad rap.” Loria won’t let this prejudice you Yes, pity the poor scorpions — so posters. They also shed their exoskelmisunderstood. Fortunately, the oddball etons. So you look for glowing bits of against scorpions. There are 2,200 spearachnids have Loria on their side. A scorpion shell on the trail leading you cies of them, she says, and only 45 have native of Glendale, Queens, and gradu- to a live one and then, using foot-long poisonous venom. What’s more, they ate of New York’s Catholic school sys- tweezers, you try to grab it as fast as you can live up to 25 years, and are members of the arachnid family, like spiders, tem, she is perhaps the city’s only scor- can before it scurries into its borrow. At that point, says Loria, you often but less popular. At arachnid convenpion apologist. tions (I know, I know), “85 She loves the creato 95 percent of the talks are tures, researches them, about spiders,” says Loria, and this fall she got her bummed. Scorpions get no Ph.D. in scorpion studrespect. And yet, they have ies from the American been around since before the Museum of Natural dinosaurs. History’s Richard Gilder In her own pre-history, Graduate School. Other Loria grew up digging milgrads included a frog lipedes and centipedes out researcher, a bat specialof her backyard and bringing ist getting an honorary them inside, to her parents degree, and a guy who non-delight. She had an ant has identified 70 new spefarm, a moth farm, and a cies of wasps. grammar school teacher who Not sure I’d want to be showed her rubber replicas at their Christmas party. of bugs and encouraged her But having never curiosity. One time, Loria seen an actual scorpion wore a dead cicada’s shell — or scorpion researchon her nose to freak out her er, for that matter — I schoolmates. did want to meet Loria. It worked. So the other day I went But Loria wasn’t really to the museum and was trying to disgust anyone. She escorted past dozens of was just fascinated by the dinosaur- demanding “behind the scenes” work that school groups, up to the insects and arachnids do. restricted fifth floor, past “If you watch any nature hundreds of lockers housPhoto by Lenore Skenazy ing insect specimens, and Stephanie Loria loves scorpions — and wants you to like them shows on TV, it’s always about big cats, or other mamthen through a hall lined too! mals we relate to.” But the with clear plastic boxes real heroes, she says, are the containing — OMG! Tarantulas. Live tarantulas — the have “moths swarming around your smaller creatures we rely on. Bees polsize of chipmunks — waving their furry face and you’re swallowing them, and linate. Millipedes help decomposition. sometimes you’re also near ants, and Spiders and scorpions keep the insect legs at me. How did “Night at the Museum” you’re covered with them, and some of population down. By high school, she was taking afterthem are pretty nasty.” Long story short, miss these guys? One floor up I found Loria in her if you don’t manage to grab the scorpion school classes at the Museum of Natural with the tweezers, sometimes you just History and did an internship studying lab, scorpions at her side — dead. flamingo behavior. “We have some live stuff downstairs, dig them out. Now that she has her Ph.D., she is That’s right: You stick your hands but those are more like pets,” she said. “These I actually collected during my into a scorpion den — hoping you’ll heading to San Fran to start studying the evolution of scorpion venom. Her future find some. trips to Southeast Asia.” One time, Loria recalled, she and looks so bright, she has to pinch herself. And how does one collect a scorBefore anything else does. pion? Well, Loria said as cheerfully as a her advisor were on a nighttime hunt in Lenore Skenazy is a keynote speakflight attendant, you just have to go into the Malaysian jungle when suddenly, a er, founder of the book and blog Freethe jungle at night. Scorpions are black, scorpion stung him. “Two of his fingers were paralyzed Range Kids, and a contributor at so you can’t see them except by using an ultra-violet flashlight, which makes and he had a burning sensation mov- Reason.com. DowntownExpress.com
Posted To Lawsuit dispute: Gateway plaintiff accuses landlord of intimidation tactics (Oct. 5) But the windows that have been replaced are STILL defective, tenants with replaced windows still note very cold temperatures and LITTLE OR NO improvement from the old windows. Shouldn’t Gateway/LeFrak be ordered to give rent abatements or concessions to those tenants with high heating bills??? These are not “the projects.” Many tenants pay between $3000 and $6000 per month for their apartments. And to be left with very cold interiors or very high heating bills is certainly unjust and there should be compensation, not promises that don’t pan out. Ann
Rev. Jen Goes Trolling —
For Fun! (Nov. 22) Rev. Jen – I’m so happy to see you writing again — and on a positive note. You are so right that help for mental needs is so less available than for physical needs. But probably it is even more vital! I hope the help you got keeps on coming. maryanne
Lower Manhattan’s first Thanksgiving happened eight years before the Pilgrims (Nov. 25) Thank you for this interesting perspective regarding our Dutch heritage. Downtown Manhattan is rich in the history of our city and nation. The Friends of the Lower West Side and the Washington Street Historical Society are striving to preserve the storyof the unique multi-cultural immigrant neighborhood that existed for over a century before the construction of the World Trade Center.
Please keep us informed about your future events. Joe Svehlak
Pleas no: ‘Smug’ hit-andrun suspect refuses plea deal, now faces up to 7 years if convicted at trial (Dec.1) As mentioned many times before, contributors to the chaos of NYC cycling are: unclear signage (if any) about cycling rules, lack of dissemination of the rules for cyclists, effectively no enforcement of any rules (laws) for cyclists by NYPD, and ultimately the culture of anything goes (along with entitlement). I don’t know anything about the accident involved in this article beyond what has been published over several months, so I am not stating or implying anything about it. Nevertheless, the city and cyclists (as well as drivers and pedestrians) MUST get on the same page to get control of
this chaotic insanity. Stop the Insanity
Laggage check: Gateway tenants say management holding rent checks to scam late fees (Dec. 6) Gateway (LeFrak) has a history of performing shoddy work and hiring incompetent contractors. My favorite recent one is the guy(s) who painted the hallway on the second floor at 395 South End Avenue: he/they painted ON all the wallpaper!!! BPC Resident The Gateway Plaza Tenants Association should be aggressively pursuing these allegations, as the truth will either clear the Management of any wrongdoing or even the appearance of impropriety or expose unethical behavior, the latter of which must be stopped immediately. Justine Cuccia
For more news, events and happenings in Downtown visit www.DowntownExpress.com
Photo by Joseph Calisi
M oney t r ee The New York Stock Exchange brightened up the Fidi night on Dec. 1 with its 93rd-annual tree-lighting event that included live music and dancers.
December 15 - 28, 2016
Fuku to Fidi Famed spicy fried chicken franchise to open new location in Financial District BY COLIN MIXSON Famed Momofuku chef David Chang’s spicy fried chicken venture, Fuku, is branching out from its original East Village digs to open an eatery at 110 Wall St., promising delectable Seoul food for Downtowners who can stand the spicy sauce. Momofuku has confirmed a report that first appeared on Luis Vazquez’s Fidi Fan Page on Dec. 7, setting off a frenzy among Fidi foodies. “This is amazing and will be the death of me,” Thomas Brunoli commented under the Fidi Fan Page report on Facebook. The eatery, which debuted on First Ave. in the East Village in 2015, filed
an application for a liquor license that Community Board 1’s Financial District Committee endorsed on Dec. 7. Fuku will join a new branch of Chang’s flagship endeavor MomoFuku — slated to open next year on Pier 17 at the South Street Seaport — as his second venture in Lower Manhattan. The existing East Village Fuku currently enjoys a three-and-half-star rating on Yelp, where reviewers noted the infallibility of Chang, whose magic touch knows no limits. “From the minimalist décor and super friendly staff, to the tasty and innovative grub, it’s clear David Chang can do no wrong,” wrote Yelp reviewer Lizzie C.
Momofuku’s David Chang is bringing his spicy fried chicken sandwich franchise, Fuku, to 110 Wall St.
shedding sheds Continued from page 15
repair workers at the Department of Buildings, but the bill’s boosters counter that the two problems actually cancel each other out. Since it would be virtually impossible for the city to complete work for all property owners whose workers dallied for a week, the city would likely only step in against the worst offenders, Jamieson said. But the proposed law would at least give the city some enforcement option, when now it has none. “The spirit of the law is to get the
most egregious landlords, who have scaffolds up for years without any work, and which community members have complained about,” he said. The bill will likely need some work before it’s ready for a Council vote, but its aggressive language should at the very least shine a spotlight on an issue that’s been left to linger — like the scaffolds — for far too long, Kennell said. “This is aggressive and that’s not a bad thing,” Kennell said. “I don’t expect it to be passed in this form, but it’s a positive step in the right direction, and it’s the kind of thing that will spur a debate about how to handle this.”
Photo by Joseph Calisi
S av ing S an t a The heroic firefighters of Tower Ladder 1 rescued Santa Claus from the roof of the New York Fire Museum in Lower Manhattan on Dec. 4, ensuring that the jolly old elf would be able to deliver toys to all the world’s good girls and boys on Christmas Eve. As to how Mr. Kringle got stranded on the rooftop, lead reindeer Rudolph Rednose did not return repeated calls for comment by press time.
worst offenders Continued from page 15
forcing passersby to spill into the street for lack of room. Ironically, 33 Gold St. was recently landmarked, meaning any remaining work may take even longer due to the landmark commission’s stringent permitting process
20 Exchange Pl.
SOU N D O F F! W rite a letter to th e editor! editor@ dow ntow n ex p res s .c o m 18
December 15 - 28, 2016
There’s not much to say about the sidewalk shed wrapped around 20 Exchange Pl., except that it’s been around practically forever. According to Financial District Neighborhood Association President Patrick Kennell, the renovation project that necessitated its construction kicked off around a decade ago, although city records show sidewalk shed permit applications going
Momofuku’s David Chang is bringing his spicy fried chicken sandwich franchise, Fuku, to 110 Wall St.
back to 1997. When, if ever, the project will be finished is anyone’s guess. DowntownExpress.com
Gizmos and Games as Gifts for Geeks Suitable tech for stuffing those stockings
BY CHARLES BATTERSBY Geeks can be a fickle lot, especially when trying to buy gifts for them. New, paradigm-shifting tech sometimes arrives with little fanfare. Early adopters of new gadgets are often filled with buyer’s remorse when their new toy turns out to be a dud. We tried out a few of the gizmos and games that are available this season, and came up with these prime candidates for stuffing nerdy stockings.
AIR HOG CONNECT MISSION DRONE
airhogs.com/connectmissiondrone Remote controlled drones are becoming more affordable each year. However, everyone secretly wishes that their toy was really a combat drone flying over a city being invaded by aliens. The Mission Drone combines a real drone with an “augmented reality” video game that lets Image via Square Enix players fly their drone around a virThe “20 Year Celebration” edition of “Rise of the Tomb Raider” includes the base game as well as all DLC. tual city full of adventures. The drone is controlled with a phone or tablet, and the mobile device simultaneously runs a release of some of the best games yet game that uses its camera for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. doob3d.com to track the drone as it flies “Uncharted 4” was the swan song for Your cosplayer friend who likes over a special mat on the PlayStation’s biggest franchise, while dressing up as a superhero at Comic floor. The screen “Gears of War 4” revamped a classic Con already has thousands of photos on the phone then Xbox franchise for a new generation. on their Instagram account, and their displays a city full This year is also the 20th anniver- refrigerator is covered in printouts. of alien invaders, sary of the venerable “Tomb Raider” But what they really want is a tiny tiny marines, and franchise, and “Rise of the Tomb 3D figure of themselves in costume. civilians in need of Raider” is an excellent way for new The company DOOB will do a full rescue. Players can players to jump in, or for lapsed fans body scan right in their store, then walk around to get re-acquainted with Lara Croft. print out a color resin statue up to Image via Air Hog the room, It was released on Xbox in time for 14 inches tall. The printing is done With this Air Hog drone, users conseeing their the 2015 holidays, and for PC a few at a factory in Brooklyn, and takes a trol the physical drone while playcity from any ing an augmented reality game. months later, but only just made its couple of weeks — but the scanning ture, because the Air Hog debut on the PlayStation 4. angle as the is done right in the store, and we is also a battery hog, and drone f lies There has been a stream of down- found no wait time at all when visitneeds to be recharged after about loadable content (DLC) over the ing their Soho location, one of two in through it. The Mission Drone can also be 10-15 minutes of play. last year, and a new set of DLC New York City. used as a regular drone, without the just arrived for all platforms to celDOOB can create figures in a varimat and game. The game can likeebrate the 20th anniversary of “Tomb ety of sizes, the smallest of which wise be played without needing the Rader.” With a year’s worth of DLC, is 4 inches and costs $95. They can drone; a virtual craft appears in the tombraider.com/en-us plus the excellent base game, this is a print up to 14 inches tall, and can do game, and is controlled much like its For the gamer who doesn’t want great choice to join any new console real counterpart. This is a handy fea- augmented reality, 2016 saw the under the tree. gifts continued on p. 20
DOOB 3D PRINTING
RISE OF THE TOMB RAIDER: 20 YEAR CELEBRATION
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gifts continued from p. 19
multiple people together in a single sculpture. The larger the sculpture, the higher the price, and there is an additional fee for bulky outfits and props, like a cosplayer’s gigantic Buster Sword or plasma rifle. DOOB is also a great gift for pet lovers or newlyweds, and they have special Christmas items, such as tree ornaments with a tiny figure inside.
AERA aeraforhome.com From evergreen trees to spices, the holidays have their own special smells. The Aera can fill a home with that distinct scent, without needing to bring in a tree or cook a feast. It’s a smart device that discreetly puffs out a variety of fragrances, and can be programmed with an app to activate on a schedule. The Aera recently launched with a selection of six fragrances “inspired by dreams” — but there are two new ones created specifically for the holidays. Our experimentation with the Aera showed that it can easily fill a New York City apartment with its fragrance, and even the lowest set-
Image via DOOB
Keep your dwelling smelling fresh with the app-activated Aera.
ting will keep most rooms smelling fresh. The cartridges last for up to 60 days, and our heavy usage during testing only diminished the trial cartridges slightly. The Aera comes with one fragrance cartridge, and others must be purchased separately at $47 each.
with meditation. The headband reads brainwaves to measure how calm or focused users are during a meditation session, and sends this information via Bluetooth to the mobile device. The app then provides verbal guidance on how to meditate, as well as feedback during and after each session. Users close their eyes during the experience, so it uses audio feedback in the form of nature sounds. When the user’s mind is restless, the simulated weather become more intense; branches rustle, wind howls, and waves crash. When the user is in a very calm state, they’ll hear birds chirping in the background. The Muse app uses a system of points, badges and objectives, encouraging users to practice multiple times a week. It is similar to the way the addictive Fitbit works for exercise enthusiasts. Users earn points for being in a calm state while meditating, and can “level up” like playing a game. At first this seems counterintuitive to the notion of calm and peaceful meditation, but the badges and scores are only revealed at the end of the session, so users (or rath-
MUSE BRAIN-SENSING HEADBAND choosemuse.com Muse is a gadget and app that helps
THE NEW SOUND OF
BROOKLYN The Community News Group is proud to introduce BROOKLYN PAPER RADIO. Join Brooklyn Paper Editor-in-Chief Vince DiMiceli and the New York Daily News’ Gersh Kuntzman every Thursday at 4:45 for an hour of talk on topics Brooklynites hold dear. Each show will feature instudio guests and call-out segments, and can be listened to live or played anytime at your convenience.
LISTEN EVERY THURSDAY AT 4:45PM ON BrooklynPaper.com/radio 20
December 15 - 28, 2016
Image via Muse
A man demonstrates how to meditate using the Muse headband and associated app.
er, players) won’t be distracted by their score while meditating. The Muse headband is our favorite gadget from this roundup, but also the priciest, at $249. Yet, that’s a small price to pay for oneness with the universe.
JOSEPH LICHTER, D.D.S.
Image via Aera
A woman poses with a miniature version of herself, courtesy DOOB 3D printing.
To advertise with us call: 718-260-2555 DowntownExpress.com
Old Pros Shine in Stellar Holiday Showcase
‘Morbid’ is alive with wisdom, humor, chops
BY TRAV S.D. Don’t get the wrong impression from the title of the new holiday-themed cabaret show at Pangea: The overall takeaway from the charming “Tis the Season to be Morbid” — starring Austin Pendleton and Barbara Bleier — is warmth and affection, not darkness. The premise is that the pair are playing “Austin” and “Barbara,” a couple of exes, so most of the selections in their set are about relationships that didn’t work out. The situation is fictional, it turns out — a thematic justification to hang the songs on, like so many Christmas tree ornaments; but there is still a strong undergirding of real-life past history in the show. Pendleton is, of course, a well-known character actor with prominent credits in film, television, and the stage. He is also an in-demand stage director; he’s the former artistic director of the late, lamented Circle Rep, and a longtime teacher of acting at HB Studio. The latter affiliation is the cradle, if you will, of Pendleton’s association with longtime cabaret performer Bleier, who was one of his pupils. So, too, is the show’s director and vocal coach, Barbara Maier Gustern, who has a funny cameo turn in the show. In other words, Gustern has been Pendleton’s singing teacher, Pendleton is Gustern’s acting teacher, and they’ve both taught Bleier — and they’ve done several critically acclaimed cabaret shows together in the past (including last summer’s “Late Nights in Smoky Bars”). Consequently, the performers have the kind of rapport and intimacy with each other that wouldn’t be out of place at a family gathering in someone’s living room. And just as when you find exes in the same space at a Christmas party, there are jibes and quips (plenty of them self-deprecating) but in the final analysis (and this show has some literal, Freudian, analysis), it’s still a festive occasion. Those familiar with Pendleton’s sometimes mincing screen characters will be amused to know that in this show he channels the machismo of Elvis and Richard Beymer (“West Side Story”) by singing “Blue Christmas” and “Maria.” He also renders the show-stopping Lerner/Lane classic “How Could You Believe Me When I Said I Love You When You Know I’ve Been a Liar All My Life?” from the 1951 musical film “Royal Wedding.” DowntownExpress.com
Photo by Jackie Rudin
Barbara Bleier and Austin Pendleton assume the guise of exes, for a holiday-themed cabaret romp.
Apart from the familiar “Jingle Bell Rock,” most of the holiday songs in the set have an ironic, funny, or dark twist, such as “All Those Christmas Cliches” (Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty), “I Don’t Remember Christmas” (Richard Maltby Jr. and David Shire), “My Simple Christmas Wish” (David Freidman), and “Hard Candy Christmas” (Carol Hall). Gustern contributes a naughty rendition of “Santa Baby,” a song made famous by Eartha Kitt. The balance of the set is made up of relationship songs of regret and reminiscence, such as Sondheim’s “Our Time,” from the ill-fated “Merrily We Roll Along,” and “Old Friend” by Gretchen Cryer and Nancy Ford. In Shakespearean terms, this show is “King Lear” or “The Winter’s Tale.” The theme is maturity, and unapologetic, vulnerable maturity is what is bravely offered by these show business veterans. Memories fail, voices crack, and legs give out — but hearts still beat, and fists are still shaken in defiance of the fates. These are master performers full of wisdom, experience, humor, and chops. Far from morbid in the medical sense, they’re full of piss, vinegar, and maybe even a little jalapeño pepper. If you’re older, go and relate. If you’re young, go and learn at their feet. Thurs., Jan. 5, 7pm, at Pangea (178 Second Ave., btw. E. 11th & E. 12th Sts.). Tickets are $20 in advance, $25
(cash only) at the door. $20 food or drink table minimum, per person. For
reservations, visit pangeanyc.com or call 212-995-0900.
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Just Do Art: Special Seasonal Song Edition pop culture touchstones. “Latkepalooza!” is Sun., Dec. 18, 10am–1pm. Tickets are $10. To order, call 646-437-4202 or visit mjhnyc.org/latkepalooza. “Kids and Yiddish” is Sun., Dec. 25, 11am. Tickets are $20, $10 for children; $40 for families of 4, and $40 for premium seats. Runtime is 1 hour; appropriate for ages 4 and up. To order, call 212-213-2120 x206 or visit web.ovationtix.com/trs/pr/964686. The Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust is located at 36 Battery Pl. (at West St. & First Pl.). Visit mjhnyc.org.
Courtesy National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene
Chinese food and a movie? Not this year. “Kids & Yiddish” is performed Dec. 25 at the Museum of Jewish Heritage.
BY SCOTT STIFFLER
“LATKEPALOOZA!” & “KIDS AND YIDDISH” AT THE MUSEUM OF JEWISH HERITAGE Hands down the tastiest, truest indication that the holidays have arrived, latkes are to Jewish food as…well, there’s really nothing in the world that compares to a fried, shredded potato and onion pancake — at least not when it’s plucked from the skillet at just the right time, then served with your choice of sour cream or applesauce. You can attend “Latkepalooza!” with full confidence that the artists in the kitchen know their way around this culinary treasure, which serves as the event’s centerpiece, and comes with side orders of music and handon activities. Just as pleasing on the tongue, as anyone who’s ever described themselves as “verklempt” can testify, is the language of central and eastern European Jews. Give the young ones a crash course in culture they’ll never forget, at the National Yiddish Theater Folksbiene’s funny, fast-paced, multilingual “Kids and Yiddish” revue, which sprinkles liberal amounts of Yiddish words and phrases into sketch comedy and parody songs. Rock, rap, and klezmer are among the musical styles used to mix Jewish folk traditions with current
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THE WEST VILLAGE CHORALE’S GREENWICH VILLAGE CAROLING WALK Hundreds have been known to take part in this annual song-filled trek through a neighborhood whose Dickensian London-like charm isn’t lost on those making their way through the Washington Square Arch with songbook in glove-covered hand — but don’t expect to see any rowdy flash mob/pub crawl/mannequin challenge shenanigans; quite the opposite, in fact! A tradition since 1974, members of the West Village Chorale will spend the afternoon leading small groups of carolers from Judson Memorial Church through the West Village and back again (where hot cocoa, cookies, and conviviality await). The last group leaves Judson around 2pm, so the outside portion of the event can finish well before crowds gather for “Not Straight Against Hate” — a march to defend and protect LGBTQ rights and freedoms that begins in Washington Square Park at 5pm, then makes its way to Trump Tower. Caroling Walk festivities begin Sat., Dec. 17, at 12pm in the Meeting Room of Judson Memorial Church (55 Washington Square South at Thompson St.). Songbooks are provided, and this event is free (donations accepted). For more info, visit westvillagechorale.org. For “Not Straight Against Hate” info, @nsahofficial on Instagram and Twitter.
A SWINGING BIRDLAND CHRISTMAS Take top-notch ivory tickler and in-demand arranger Billy Stritch,
Photo by Bill Westmoreland, graphic by Todd Johnson
Don’t lose your balance, Santa: Jim Caruso, Billy Stritch and Klea Blackhurst (l to r) raise the roof at “A Swinging Birdland Christmas.”
Photo by Suzanne Blakely
Here you go a-caroling: Dec. 17, with the help of the West Village Chorale.
along with sly wit and “Cast Party” open mic emcee Jim Caruso; then add brassy, roof-raising, ludicrously likable Klea Blackhurst — and you’ve got the ingredients of a Christmas chemistry set that smokes, sparks, and
blazes across the stage of Gotham’s swanky go-to room for up-close-andpersonal cabaret, jazz, and Broadway talent. Dripping with sophistication and refreshingly free of cynicism, the trio headlining “A Swinging Birdland Christmas” is not, however, operating without a healthy dose of irony. After all, they’ll be offering up beloved chestnuts like “Sleigh Ride” and “Holiday Season” at the tail end of a tumultuous presidential election year, with the uncouth victor a far cry from the civilized folks whose seasonal TV specials inspired this long-running showcase. Set to mark its seventh consecutive year of delivering us from the holiday doldrums, “A Swinging Birdland Christmas” can truly lay claim to having become what it set out to emulate: a popular standard that December just can’t do without. At 6pm, Fri.–Sun., Dec. 23, 24, 25 at Birdland Jazz Club (315 W. 44th St., btw. Eighth & Ninth Aves.). For reservations ($30 cover, $10 food/ drink minimum), visit birdlandjazz. com or call 212-581-3080. A CD based on the show, of the same title, is available via the Birdland website or iTunes. Artist info at jim-caruso. com, billystritch.com, and kleablackhurst.com. DowntownExpress.com
December 15 - 28, 2016
On the outside, we’re a historic bedrock of the New York landscape. But on the inside, we’re taking a brand-new approach to health care.
Two years ago, we opened an around-theclock, 911 receiving emergency center in the former National Maritime Union Building and brought innovative health care to Greenwich Village. Since then, we have been oﬀering state-of-the-art care with you and your family’s best interest in mind.
Now our outpatient imaging center is open for business, utilizing the most advanced techniques and equipment available. And there’s much more to come. We will be introducing additional medical services in the facility and continuing to raise the standard of healthcare in your neighborhood. Visit us on Seventh Avenue between 12th and 13th Streets. Emergency center (646) 665-6911 Imaging (646) 665-6700 Administration (646) 665-6000 Lenoxhealth.com
December 15 - 28, 2016
December 15, 2016