Downtown local

Bus plan short circuit
The Downtown Alliance has postponed plans to add an electric bus service to Lower Manhattan, but expects to begin a free low-polluting shuttle service this November.

Carl Weisbrod, president of the Alliance, said the state environmental agencies remain supportive of the electric bus idea, but the Tennessee contractor was not able to build a suitable model.

“We concluded there was no possibility that they could meet the performance standards,” Weisbrod said.

He and his vice president of operations, Mike O’Connor, traveled down to Chattanooga, Tennessee a few weeks ago to inspect a prototype model designed by Advanced Vehicle Systems. O’Connor said when the air conditioner was off, the bus could travel about 58 miles on one electric charge, which was close to the 60 mile requirement, but with the air conditioner on, the bus fell far short of the standard.

Executives at A.V.S. did not return a call seeking comment.

Weisbrod said the other concern was that A.V.S. recently filed for bankruptcy protection.

The Alliance was planning to buy eight buses at $220,000 each using federal and state grants. Weisbrod said about $150,000 out of the $2 million will not be recuperated. The Alliance has committed $600,000 to the project and the grants come to $1.4 million.

Weisbrod said the project continues to have the support of the New York Power Authority, New York State Energy Research and Development Authority and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

It is likely to take a few more years before electric buses come to Lower Manhattan.

The current plan is to buy seven, low-sulfur (“clean diesel”) buses and implement the shuttle route in November. The U-shaped route goes up and down North and South End Avenues in Battery Park City, to the area near Battery Park and then up and down Water St. to the Seaport. The service will run seven days a week and the longest waiting time is expected to be about 10 minutes.

New play space
Sydney’s Playground, a new, two-level indoor play space for preschoolers is now open on White St. in Tribeca.

With the summer heat, plenty of customers arrived on opening day, Monday, July 7, looking for an air-conditioned retreat.

“They loved it,” said owner Louise Jones, who said roughly 60 customers arrived on opening day to the 5,500 square-foot facility.

Sydney’s Playground, which is named for Jones’ 2-year-old daughter, has a giant sandbox, 750-square foot climbing city and a café serving sandwiches and snacks geared for both toddlers and grownups. There is also a special room set aside for nursing mothers called, “the Womb.”

The facility at 66 White St. is for children ages 5 and under. Admission is $8.50 per person for both children and adults. The hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays and weekends.

C.B. 1 meetings
The upcoming week’s schedule for Community Board 1 committee meetings is as follows. Unless otherwise noted, all meetings will be held in Room 709 of 49-51 Chambers St.

On Tuesday, July 8, at 6 p.m., the Financial District committee will meet to hear a presentation by the city Parks Department on new parks and park improvements, to hear a presentation and pass a resolution on the British Memorial Garden Design, to discuss the new ferry terminal at South Ferry for the 1/9 line, to discuss the proposed entrances and vents for the Second Avenue subway Hanover Square station, to pass a resolution on a restaurant beer license for 11 Broadway, and to discuss a street activity permit for NBA Hoop-It-Up, NYC on Water Street from Beekman to Broad Sts..

On Thursday, July 10, at 6 p.m., the Tribeca committee will meet to pass a resolution on a Board of Standards and Appeals application for a use and height variance at 408 Greenwich St., to review a minor modification of a special permit for 145 Hudson St., to hear a presentation by the Parks Department on new parks and park improvements, and to pass resolutions on liquor license applications for 25 Hudson St., 78-82 Reade Street, and 41 Murray St.

On Tuesday, July 15, at 5:30 p.m., the Seaport/Civic Center committee will meet to discuss proposed entrances and vents for the Second Avenue subway line at the Seaport station, to hear a presentation by the Parks Department on new parks and park improvements, to pass a resolution on a liquor license application for 160 South St., to review an application for additional sidewalk seating at 93 South St., and to discuss an application for a street activity permit for the NBA Hoop-It-Up NYC September 6 and 7 on Water St. from Beekman to Broad Sts.

Sweet move
A gourmet chocolatier has taken advantage of the city’s post-9/11 job-retention subsidy to help it move into the ground floor of a Financial District building by the end of this summer. Christopher Norman Chocolates, Ltd. has signed a 15-year lease on 3,860 sq. ft. in the ground floor of 60 Broad St., with a retail entrance on New St., according to Michael Forrest, executive managing director of CH Commercial Real Estate Group.

Christopher Norman will move its operation, currently at 12 Rivington St., to 60 Broad St.

Although the owner, Cogswell Realty Group, declined to reveal the rent, the space had been on the market for $40 per sq. ft.


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