downtownexpress.com
Volume 19 | Issue 25 | November 3 - 9, 2006

progress report/ battery park city

Looking past the borders as B.P.C. is completed

By James Cavanaugh

As we approach 2007 Battery Park City finds itself a year closer to the completion of its master plan, on target for this decade.
However, Battery Park City is always seeking out other opportunities. We believe one of the more promising possibilities lies across the street from our southern border in the historic Pier A. The authority sees limitless possibilities in this celebrated property that has sat dormant and in disrepair for too long, and we are in discussions with the lease holder to assume control of Pier A and restore it to its past glory.

Let me also take this opportunity to direct Downtown residents to what else they can expect in the immediate future at Battery Park City.

Under construction right now is Site 16/17, located on the river just north of the Irish Hunger Memorial. Upon its completion in late 2007, this Sheldrake Organization building will contain a branch of the New York Public Library. It will also house the Poet's House, which has one of the nation's largest poetry collections, the World Hunger Education Center to be operated by Mercy Corps, and City Bakery.

The courtyard of the high rise will be landscaped to compliment Teardrop Park nearby and will be open to the public. Appropriately named Teardrop South, the park will be a tremendous public amenity and a great addition to the Battery Park City Neighborhood. The public space will be available in early 2008.

Another significant milestone in 2007 will be groundbreaking for the new Milstein Organization building on Sites 23 and 24, right next to the existing ballfields. Straddling the two residential towers of this project, on the lower floors, will be a 50,000-square-foot community center.

Current plans for the community center include a swimming pool, gym, auditorium, fitness center, and classroom spaces. We hope the community center will be open in late 2008 or early 2009, and expect it to compliment the smaller community center that Manhattan Youth is building across West St.

Battery Park City is working closely with the Downtown Little League, Downtown Soccer League, as well as Milstein, to ensure that the construction of the building causes as little disruption to play at the nearby ballfields as possible.

Our commitment to being a leader in smart, environmentally conscious development remains as strong as ever, and we are about to take another green step with the construction of the third Albanese Organization residential high rise.

Albanese's building, now going up in the south neighborhood, will be rated platinum under the Leadership in Environmental Engineering and Design program. The Solaire, which opened in 2003, was the first LEED Gold residential high rise in the nation. This new building will go even further in saving energy, recycling water, conserving resources, and providing a healthy living environment.

The biggest project underway, and perhaps the most noticeable since it occurs right along West St., is the new world headquarters for Goldman Sachs. This too should be complete in 2009, though it may take until 2010 until all employees are moved in. The new Goldman building will be rated LEED Gold, and will extend the Battery Park City Authority's green philosophy to the commercial sector.

Since 2001, protective barriers and security bollards have become an all too common sight in New York. Battery Park City recognizes that while security is important, so is having a neighborhood look like a neighborhood. To that end the authority continues to promote ways to protect buildings while avoiding the “armed camp” look.

We have installed an award-winning design next to the Irish Hunger Memorial and the New York Mercantile Exchange that trades bollards for hardened street furniture and other more natural obstacles. We are also working to replace many of the bollards along West St. with a more attractive retaining wall. We hope our leadership in this field will provide an example that others can follow.

It has been a long road for Battery Park City, beginning with the administration of Nelson Rockefeller, under whose auspices the landfill was first begun. Ninety-two acres and nearly 40 years later, we are seeing the fulfillment of the master plan.

When the Rockefeller administration created the concept, Lower Manhattan quite literally was deserted at night and on weekends. The idea was to replace aging and dilapidated piers with new commercial development, and more importantly, housing so that the area would become a residential community for the first time. That certainly has happened, perhaps more than even Gov. Rockefeller might have ever imagined.

James Cavanaugh is president and C.E.O. of the Hugh L. Carey Battery Park City Authority.

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