Covering Battery Park City

The stairs in the World Financial Center's Winter Garden as they looked during the recent Bang on a Can marathon. Brookfield Properties, which owns the World Financial Center, has agreed not to demolish the stairs when it undertakes a $250 million renovation that will begin in October.

Winter Garden shows will go on:
The Winter Garden stairs will stay when Brookfield Properties, owner of the World Financial Center, undertakes a $250 million renovation that will begin in October and end in 2013. Brookfield’s ambitious — and free — arts programming will also stay, according to Debra Simon, Brookfield’s vice president of arts and events. “We’re going to work around the construction,” she said. “We will make adjustments to be able to present everything that’s in the works in the Winter Garden.”

For this fall and winter, that includes MotorExpo (September 18-23), the NewSong Singer-Songwriter Contest (October 20), Canstruction (November 10-21) and holiday decorations and programming such as “The Nutcracker” during the month of December.

Going forward to 2012 and 2013, “We absolutely intend to continue to work with Bang on a Can [an annual marathon of contemporary music] and do other large-scale presentations,” Simon said. “We might make some adjustments and move the audience and staging around. That’s what we’re looking at now but it’s our intention to make it work. We’re taking a serious look at doing some fairly substantial exhibits. We’re also talking to New York Classical Theatre about doing another panoramic theater production [like “The Rover” where the actors moved throughout the World Financial Center and the audience followed them]. They can work in virtually any space we give them. We’re very clever presenters. We will figure out a way to make it work.”

Brookfield’s construction plans for the World Financial Center include expanding the retail offerings with a European-style marketplace and waterfront dining. A glass pavilion on West Street will link the World Financial Center to Lower Manhattan’s new transit hubs and will serve as the entranceway to the W.F.C. complex.

“We are currently reviewing the detailed drawings for the renovation and expect to bring any changes to our leases and other agreements before the Board at our July Board meeting,” said Battery Park City Authority President Gayle Horwitz at the June meeting of the B.P.C.A. board of directors. William C. Thompson, Jr., B.P.C.A. chairman, commented at the Authority’s June Board meeting that Brookfield was facing a challenge from the World Trade Center and had to do something major in order to attract tenants. “In the next five years, that’s one of the biggest challenges that Brookfield is going to face,” he said, “the continued viability of the World Financial Center and making sure that it stays tenanted. I think that increasing retail and trying to bring people into that building is a good idea.”

Brookfield recently negotiated leases in excess of 600,000 square feet with corporations such as Oppenheimer Fund and Commerce Bank and is currently in serious negotiations for more than two million square feet with other major tenants in the financial services and media service sectors, Horwitz said.

Smoking in the park:
Dogs are currently prohibited in some parts of Battery Park City’s 32 acres of parks, and now smoking will also be a no-no. “The City implemented a smoking ban in City parks,” said Gayle Horwitz at the B.P.C.A. June Board meeting. “We currently follow all city parks rules and regulations and as such we’ve instructed staff and P.E.P. officers that the smoking ban should be enforced and we are amending our signs accordingly.”

The citywide no-smoking law was passed in February and went into effect on May 23. The Department of Parks is responsible for enforcing it and can impose a $50 fine for infractions.

Cunard’s flagship, “Queen Mary 2,” steaming up the Hudson River at dawn. Downtown Express photos by Terese Loeb Kreuzer

Queen Mary 2 on the Hudson:
Since April 2006, the trans-Atlantic ocean liner “Queen Mary 2,” has been docking most of the time at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal in Red Hook, but on July 1 and again on July 6, the Cunard line’s flagship, which carries 2,620 passengers and 1,254 crew, will steam up the Hudson River at dawn to the midtown Manhattan Cruise Terminal between West 47th and West 53rd Streets.

“Queen Mary 2,” launched in 2004, was constructed to weather the storms and swells of the North Atlantic, and is the only true ocean liner still afloat. Other ships — some now even larger than “Queen Mary 2” — occasionally make trans-Atlantic voyages but were constructed primarily for use as cruise ships. “Queen Mary 2” regularly travels between New York and Southampton, England.

At one time the piers along the Hudson River were dense with ocean liners whose names still bring mist to the eyes of aficionados, who remember their elegance and speed. For the passengers on “Queen Mary 2,” entering New York harbor at dawn is likely to be an unforgettable experience, as it will be for those on shore who see the majestic ship glide silently by.

When “Queen Mary 2” leaves on July 1, she will be bound for Halifax, Nova Scotia. On July 6, she will be headed to Southampton.

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