Digest, Week of May 30, 2012

C.B. 1 elections will bring new community leadership
With Community Board 1 Chair Julie Menin on  her way out, current vice chair Catherine McVay Hughes is already preparing to take the reins, as she will run unopposed for the chair position at the C.B. 1 elections on Tues., June 26.

Hughes told the Downtown Express that she looks forward to continuing the board’s role in providing beneficial services to the community, and plans to begin by looking at various C.B. 1 committees in order to establish which are still necessary and which could be merged with larger task forces in an attempt to conserve resources.

“The goal is to meet with all 50 members of the board individually to get their input on the committees,” said Hughes. “I’ll also set up a small committee to look at the infrastructure of C.B. 1, to make sure the needs of those who live and work down here are being met.”

The candidates for the vice chair seat Hughes will be vacating are C.B. 1 Secretary Anthony Notaro and board member Paul Hovitz. Notaro, a resident of Battery Park City, is also co-chair of the board’s Planning and Community Infrastructure Committee. Hovitz, a resident of Southbridge Towers, is co-chair of the Youth and Education Committee.

Marc Ameruso, currently the board’s assistant secretary, will run against new board member Adam Malitz for the secretary position. Dennis Gault, a board member, will be the board’s next assistant secretary, as he is running unopposed. Board members Tom Goodkind and John Fratta will vie for the treasurer position, which is being vacated by Joel Kopel.

Port Authority picks new acting police chief
After a scandal over the possible distribution of promotions exam answers and the failure of senior officers to take action, the Port Authority has named Lieutenant John Ryan its acting police chief. Ryan, a 33-year veteran of the Port Authority Police Department (P.A.P.D.), is noted for commanding the rescue and recovery operation at the World Trade Center following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

Plans for reform within the department have been in the works since last year when former U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff was hired to perform a top-to-bottom study of the Port Authority’s security operations. The need for the reform became all the more apparent when the P.A.P.D. discovered that three senior officials failed to discipline Captain John Ferrigno, who attempted to take cell phone photos of a P.A.P.D. promotions exam last June.

“Any erosion of honor and responsibility demonstrates institutional — not just personal — failings, and it must be remedied,” said Port Authority Chairman David Samson in a statement released on May 18. “The appointment of Ryan makes it clear that substantial reforms have already begun and that the highest levels of professional standards will be maintained.”

Ryan, a Long Island native, is one of the most decorated members of the P.A.P.D., and, according to an article from nj.com, Port Authority Police Benevolent Association union head Paul Nunziato considers him a “proven leader.”

W.T.C. base won’t look like a bunker after all
Although its builders nearly scrapped their plans to shroud the concrete base of One World Trade Center in glass, it looks as if the façade will end up being easy on the eyes, after all.

The final design of the base comprises “vertical glass fins protruding from panels of stainless steel slats,” behind which will be illuminated screens that will make the base glow at night, according to a New York Post article. An earlier concept was canned due to fears that the glass would shatter too easily.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and the Durst Organization, the skyscraper’s owners, plan to begin installing the latest version of the façade in October. The construction around the cubical base, which measures 185 feet on each side, will cost $40 million.

The choice to stick with what is perceived as a warmer-looking base will go over well with critics of last year’s preliminary renderings, which were deemed monolithic and bunker-like. The building’s image will likely be important to both the millions of tourists who will flock to it, and to high-profile tenants like publishing giant Condé Nast, whose employees will occupy one-third of the skyscraper’s office space starting in 2015.

Mall maven seeking tenants for W.T.C. retail space
Westfield, the international shopping mall owner, said that the first retail shops for the World Trade Center may be announced by the beginning of 2013 and will open for business in March 2015, according to Reuters. At a trade conference in Las Vegas on Mon., May 21, Westfield co-chief executive officer Peter Lowy spoke to potential tenants about the 352,000 square feet of designated shopping area that will make up Three W.T.C., Four W.T.C. and the W.T.C. Transportation Hub.

This took place just days after Westfield finalized a $1.25 billion deal with the Port Authority, one of the W.T.C.’s owners, to lease the retail space. The joint venture, which almost failed to solidify, had been in the making for nearly 11 years. As part of that deal, Westfield will be able to develop an additional 90,000 square feet of retail space within the 8.8 million square feet of office space currently under construction.

Lowy told Reuters that he plans to be very selective when it comes to choosing tenants, and that the stores will cater to local residents and tourists alike. “We’re going to do something that no one can imagine,” he said, while declining to disclose specifics.

Downtown Express sparks changes
As the result of an article by Zach Williams in our May 16 issue, developer McSam Downtown LLC forked over approximately $80,000 of the outstanding property taxes it owes the city.

Citing an April 2 notice from the city, Williams revealed that McSam, which is in the process of building the world’s tallest Holiday Inn at 99 Washington St., had been in default of an agreement previously reached on the taxes.

But McSam isn’t off the hook yet. The developer faces more trouble as it attempts to meet its spring 2013 deadline for completion of the building. According to Williams’ article, the developer owes the city thousands upon thousands of dollars in taxes and fines, and neighborhood residents claim that their safety at the corner of Washington and Rector Streets, which is blocked by the construction, is constantly in jeopardy.

And, a letter published in the Transit Sam column of our April 11 issue also made a notable impact in the Downtown community. Amy Bergenfeld, one of the owners of the Civil Service Book Shop, at 38 Lispenard St., wrote in to let us know that there were no street signs at the two intersections around her store, Lispenard and Church Streets and Lispenard Street and West Broadway.

The D.O.T. took notice and said it would be installing new signs shortly. Let’s hope that Bergenfeld’s customers don’t have trouble finding her store any longer!

D.O.T. Delancey Street safety improvements
The city Department of Transportation will begin making safety improvements along the Delaney Street corridor in the coming weeks, according to a statement released by New York State Senator Daniel Squadron. The overhaul, which has been in the planning stages since February, is the result of efforts by Squadron’s Delancey Street Safety Working Group.

The improvements will include the shortening of 14 pedestrian crossings, lengthened crossing time at Delancey and Clinton Streets, redesigned street markings, a newly painted pedestrian plaza between Clinton and Norfolk Streets (aimed at calming vehicular traffic and improving the approach to the Williamsburg Bridge) and enhanced traffic patterns throughout the corridor.

The D.O.T. told the Downtown Express that the work should be finished by the last week of July. Meanwhile, the Delancey Street Safety Working Group plans to reconvene over the summer to review the improvements once they have been completed.

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