B.P.C. Beat

Ground Rents deal approved:
At its Board of Directors meeting on Tues., May 10, the Battery Park City Authority approved a deal affecting 11 Battery Park City condominiums that will lower ground rents by 35 percent between 2012 and 2042 of what they would have been had the agreement not been approved. Rather than fluctuating with market forces, the ground rents will be fixed and predictable, which, according to New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, “will give lenders the confidence they need to approve mortgages for those looking to move into our community and provide stability to the housing market in Battery Park City.” Silver brokered the deal between the condominiums and the Battery Park City Authority, owner of the land on which the buildings are constructed; the condominiums pay ground rents for the use of that land.

The deal approved on May 10 closes the chapter on negotiations that stretched over more than a year as the Boards of Directors of the 11 condominiums struggled to find a solution acceptable to all of the buildings, which had widely differing ground rents, and to the B.P.C.A., which disperses some of the money it takes in to New York City and New York State.

Gene Glazer, president of the Regatta Board of Managers and a leader of the Battery Park City Homeowners Coalition, the organization that represented all 11 buildings, thanked B.P.C.A. Chair William C. Thompson, Jr., the B.P.C.A. Board, President Gayle Horwitz and the B.P.C.A. staff  “for their courage, foresight and professionalism in recognizing the need for establishing a fairer, more rational ground rent formula.”

Garden tours:
Dana Anders calls herself a horticulturist but she could also be described as a curator. On staff with the Battery Park City Parks Conservancy, for the past seven years she has been in charge of the plantings on the esplanade. She knows each bed and its vegetation the way a museum director might know one artist from another. Most of the esplanade tends to be shady, but some spots are windier than others, affecting what can be grown there, she said on Fri., May 6, as she guided a group on a tour of her domain.

This year, Anders said, “There was snow cover that lasted longer into the spring than usual. Some flowers that might have bloomed earlier in other years were delayed or were prevented from coming up because of the snow blanket. Every year is different depending on what the winter is like.”

Anders pointed out some Virginia bluebells (Mertensia virginica) blooming next to a clump of intensely blue Siberian bugloss (Brunnera macrophylla). “You don’t usually see them blooming at the same time,” she said. “Usually the Virginia bluebells would be gone by the time the Brunnera comes up.”

The one-hour tour started at Esplanade Plaza on the south side of North Cove Marina and ended a block away at Albany Street because there was so much to see: Grecian windflowers, barrenwort, grape hyacinth, Solomon’s seal, lily of the valley and several kinds of hellebores.

Perhaps the most unusual specimen was a vine climbing the iron fence in front of Merchants River House. Chocolate Vine or Five-leaf Akebia (Akebia quinata) is native to Japan, China and Korea. In China, the woody stem of the plant is used to improve lactation in nursing mothers and as a diuretic. Anders said that she thought the esplanade plant was the only example in Battery Park City. The vine has diminutive, chocolate-colored flowers that are hidden among the leaves. In some places, it is considered invasive because it grows so vigorously to the detriment of surrounding vegetation, but Anders said she keeps an eye on her Akebia so that it doesn’t get out of hand.

Anders’ tour was one of the programs of the Battery Park City Parks Conservancy. The Conservancy’s next garden tour will be on Mon., May 16 from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m., when senior horticulturist Nancy Buivid will show people around Teardrop Park. No reservations are necessary and the tours are free.

Free Snow Cones:
SouthWest NY is handing out free snow cones on Saturdays and Sundays on the plaza facing North Cove Marina. Snow cones are popular in the Caribbean and in many Central and South American countries and go by a variety of names. In Cuba, they’re called “granizados” from a Spanish word that means “hailstones.” Puerto Ricans call the confection of shaved ice doused with flavored syrups “piragua.” In Mexico and the American Southwest, they would be called “raspa” or “raspado” referring to the scraped ice that forms the base of a snow cone.

In the U.S. Virgin Islands, syrups to pour on the ice might come in flavors such as soursop and tamarind, which are fruits grown on the islands. And the ices might come with or without milk — meaning condensed milk in addition to the fruit syrups.

SouthWest NY is dispensing snow cones with four flavors of syrup — no milk — from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekends.

Fatty Snack:
There’s a new kid on the block on the World Financial Center plaza. On May 10, Fatty Snack, an offshoot of Brooklyn’s popular Fatty ’Cue, set up a stand next to QualityBurger and Ed’s Lobster Bar. Official opening day is May 11. Fatty Snack is serving sandwiches priced from $6 to $12 and beverages such as fresh-squeezed lemonade, Thai iced coffee and lemon-ginger iced tea for $3 or $4. A “fresh, young coconut” is $7.

To comment on Battery Park City Beat or to suggest article ideas, email TereseLoeb@mac.com.

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