Covering Battery Park City

BY TERESE LOEB KREUZER  |  NEW CHAIRMAN TAKES HELM AT B.P.C.A.:  The Battery Park City Authority’s Board of Directors has elected Dennis Mehiel as the B.P.C.A.’s new chairman. Mehiel, chairman and chief executive officer of the Four M Corporation — one of the largest corrugated packaging producers in North America — had been nominated to serve on the B.P.C.A. by New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo, but it was up to the Authority’s board to actually place him in the chairman’s seat.

One of the items on the agenda at Mehiel’s first meeting as chairman was the confirmation of New York law firm Kramer Levin to serve as legal counsel to the B.P.C.A. on waterfront zoning and land use issues pertaining to the Pier A Plaza. The Authority is renovating the landmark pier and plaza, situated at the southern end of Battery Park City.

“Kramer Levin will aid in shepherding the Pier A Plaza Project from design to completion, including through the approval processes to the Department of City Planning and Public Design Commission,” said Matthew Monahan, a spokesperson for the Authority.

Paul D. Selver, co-chair of Kramer Levin’s Land Use Department, is the senior partner on the project. Among his current projects are the redevelopment of Pier 17 at the South Street Seaport and the reconfiguration of retail space at the World Financial Center.

“Urban Fabric,” an exhibit about New York City’s garment district, is at the Skyscraper Museum (39 Battery Pl.).

SKYSCRAPER MUSEUM EXHIBITS URBAN FABRIC:  New York City’s fabled garment district, once known simply as “Seventh Avenue,” is recalled in an exhibit that just opened at the Skyscraper Museum.

The exhibit, “Urban Fabric,” includes architectural drawings, advertisements, fashion drawings and period clothing from the decades when the garment district dressed America.

Starting in 1919 and continuing into the 1960s, three-quarters of the clothing worn by American women and children was designed and made in 135 skyscraper factories that lined the streets between 35th and 41st Streets and Sixth and Ninth Avenues. As the exhibit’s photographs and film footage show, the sidewalks of the garment district were jammed.

Men pushed rolling carts — transporting millions of dollars of merchandise between designers, manufacturers and showrooms. Pattern-makers, cutters and sewing machine operators worked in spacious lofts, protected by fireproofing laws spawned by the tragic Triangle Shirtwaist

Factory fire of 1911 that claimed 146 lives, mostly immigrant women. (At lunchtime, a hundred thousand people spilled into the streets.)

The garment industry was created almost entirely by European Jewish immigrants, according to the exhibit’s curator, Andrew S. Dolkart, director of historic preservation at Columbia University’s School of Architecture. “The owners of the business- es were Eastern European Jewish immigrants, and they hired Jewish architects,” he explained. “They leased space to Jewish- owned garment firms that hired largely Jewish workers.”

In the 1960s, many of the garment businesses moved out of New York City to other parts of the country in search of lower wages and less unionization. Eventually, clothing manufacturing moved overseas, but the sturdy, well-lit buildings that housed the original garment district are still there. They now mostly house architects’ offices and law, technology and media firms. Some of them still are home to clothing designers and showrooms.

The exhibit will be at the Skyscraper Museum (39 Battery Pl.) through January 2013. For more information, visit the museum’s website, www.skyscraper.org.

A wedding party posing for photos in Battery Park City’s South Cove. Getting married in B.P.C. requires permits from the Battery Park City Authority. Downtown Express photos by Terese Loeb Kreuzer

WEDDINGS GALORE:  South Cove sure is sweet on summer weekends. Hardly a weekend goes by with- out a bridal party. Some people even hold their weddings in Battery Park City. “My surmise is wedding parties, or their photographers, know what we all know: that the South Cove is a beautiful place,” said Matthew Monahan, a Battery Park City Authority spokesman.

Whether for pictures taken by a professional photographer or for the ceremony itself, couples are supposed to obtain permits from the Battery Park City Authority. Permits must be obtained 30 business days in advance of an event and cost $250 for wedding pictures and $400 for the ceremony. Professional photographers are supposed to carry $1 million worth of liability insurance. But not everyone bothers with these rules. “We have a permit process [that] some are appropriately using,” according to Monahan. “Perhaps others are unaware, but they still go for their photos.”

Battery Park City and South Cove,in particular, are certifiably beautiful, but they aren’t private. Anyone can gawk — and lots of people do. Moreover, there are regulations. The appearance of the parks and gardens must be preserved. No decorations are allowed. That means no ribbons, no balloons, no bows, no candles. Structures aren’t permitted, either. The use of altars and kneelers is verboten. Forget about rice, bubbles, birdseed or confetti. And no tents, tables, chairs “or similar items” may be brought into the parks.

But none of these rules seem to keep wedding parties away, much to the  chagrin of some of the people who live near South Cove.

“An unintended consequence of the photography is the improper parking or standing of vehicles associated with the wedding party along the curb or cul-de-sac that has an effect on the area,” said Monahan.

South Cove wedding watchers have seen their share of Rolls Royces and stretch limos in the cul-de-sac. They take up space, of course, but they are undoubt- edly quieter than jalopies decked out with ribbons and tin cans, emblazoned with “Just Married.” However, fortunately for onlookers’ peace and quiet, the Battery Park City wedding crowd seems to prefer something a little more decorous.

For information on Battery Park City permits, required for professional filming, vid- eotaping and photography, volleyball games, weddings and birthday parties attended by more than 20 people, visit the B.P.C.A. website, www.batteryparkcity.org.

To comment on Battery Park City Beat or to suggest article ideas, email Terese Loeb Kreuzer at TereseLoeb10@gmail.com.

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