downtownexpress.com

Volume 19 • Issue 15 | August 25 - 31, 2006

Under cover

Pork on the pier
U.S. Rep. Jerry Nadler has his eye on the Urban Estuary Center, a marine ecology aquarium planned for the soon-to-be-revamped Pier 26 in Tribeca. The center has become the stepchild of the $70-million Tribeca piece of the Hudson River Park — the Beacon Institute for Rivers and Estuaries, the group tapped to build it, has little interest in the project and Hudson River Park Trust President Connie Fishman says there is no money in the budget for it.

But Nadler loves his fish and wants the center — which could cost in the neighborhood of $5 million — built. He earmarked $4 million in “mainly pork” federal funds for the Trust, according to Arturo Garcia-Costas, Nadler’s aide. Nadler thinks the estuarium would be a great candidate for the cash, which is still making its way through Congress. “It’s highly unlikely that it’ll get killed,” said Garcia-Costas.

The Urban Estuary Center, a marine aquarium and educational center that would study the Hudson River habitat, is modeled after the River Project, a homespun marine ecology group that blossomed on the pier for two decades. When the pier closed for renovations last year, the River Project paddled north to temporary digs on Pier 40. The low-budget — but beloved — River Project has never been included in formal plans for the new multimillion dollar estuarium because of its limited finances, although Trust officials insist that the Beacon Institute could accommodate the River Project.

Garcia-Costas, however, thinks that if the River Project wants to stay afloat at a new estuarium, it’ll need to swim laps around the institute — or whoever ultimately runs the center. “The River Project is going to have to do the heavy lifting for that,” he said. “They’re going to have to flirt with [the Beacon Institute]. They’re going to have to charm them.”


Sour days for Sweet N’ Tart
Chinatown eatery Sweet N’ Tart shut its doors last month when its lease was not renewed. Spencer Chan, owner of the Mott St. restaurant and Chinatown meeting spot, is on the hunt for a new Manhattan locale. “I feel very, very sad. I stayed in that restaurant since 1985,” Chan told UnderCover of his 26-year-old business. Sweet N’ Tart, once a hub of Chinatown activity and host to many a public meeting, went out quietly. Chan threw a private party for staff and old friends and closed shop. “Everyone became upset,” he said.

The building’s owner decided not to renew his lease in order to renovate the building. Since the restaurant closed, Chan has hunkered down at his Flushing, Queens, location — Sweet N’ Tart Café — and still runs his catering business. But he’s not through with Chinatown. Rents might be high and spaces small, but he’s on the prowl for new digs. “I really hope I can find a new space for my customers,” he lamented.


Funny for ‘Absinthe’
UnderCover spies spotted “Mean Girls” scribe Tina Fey with her “S.N.L.” cohort-turned-B-lister Jimmy Fallon at “Absinthe” at the Spiegeltent in the South Street Seaport. The two kept a low profile and sat at separate tables. Character actor Jeffrey Jones — best known as the vindictive principal from “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” — turned up at the same show, also in need of a little Absinthe, it seems.



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