Volume 19 Issue 40 | February 16 - 22, 2007

Under Cover

Spoiling the stew
Andrew Berman wants the Village to go on a low-carb diet, metaphorically speaking.

Told that New York University will likely move 350 more students into the neighborhood next fall, the preservationist told the New York Sun, “It’s like a stew — if it’s a lot of ingredients it tastes great, but if it’s all potatoes, who wants to eat that?”

In this analogy, the Village is the stew, its residents are the ingredients and the N.Y.U. students are, well, the potatoes. The university must relocate its young spuds because its lease on a 31-story dormitory in the Financial District expires after the current spring semester. The building, at 15 Cliff St., is owned by Rockrose Development Corporation and will likely be converted into condos.

N.Y.U., which has raised ire in the Village over its plans to build a 26-story dormitory on E. 12th St., told The Sun that its students are eager to be housed closer to campus.

Folding umbrella
Eyesore or icon — opinions on Tribeca’s giant glowing red umbrella are usually in the eye of the beholder. But now, due to some crazy corporate brand-trading, the neon sign’s future may be in doubt.

The big umbrella occupies the northern face of the Citigroup building at 388 Greenwich St. and is visible for almost a mile along West St. The umbrella was originally installed back when Travelers Insurance occupied the building and used a red umbrella as their corporate logo.

Then, in 1993, Travelers merged with Citigroup. Citi moved its investment banking branch, Smith Barney, into the Greenwich St. location and adopted the umbrella as its own corporate logo. When the companies split up again in 2002, Citi kept the offices and the umbrella — both the logo and the glowing neon sign.

On Tuesday, however, Citi announced that it is selling the red umbrella brand logo back to Travelers for an undisclosed sum. Citi plans to use Citibank’s red t-topping semi-circle (which looks like an umbrella, but isn’t) for its own branding and Travelers issued a press release expressing its pleasure at reacquiring the “reassuring” icon.

No word yet on what this development means for the actual, neon umbrella, but residents who fought to take the umbrella down should stay tuned for possible action in mid-March, when the logo sale is set to be approved by business regulators.

The empire strikes back…
The Lower Manhattan Construction Command Center is ready to tackle Downtown traffic tie-ups using the force…of a high-tech camera and sensor system being installed by the city Department of Transportation.

The system will use 41 cameras with microwave sensors to give traffic agents in a Long Island City command center a real-time map of the Lower Manhattan traffic flow. When vehicle volume spikes or speeds slow to a crawl, the agents will be able to look at the camera feeds, determine the source of the problem, and correct the issue — either by adjusting signal timing or dispatching police to the area.

The cameras, which will transmit wirelessly, will be able to tilt, pan and zoom to the agents’ liking, but due to state regulations, they will not be able to be used to issue red light tickets. The city currently has 10 of the cameras installed.

Charles Maikish, L.M.C.C.C. executive director, was near-giddy about the project at a recent Community Board 1 meeting, insisting that the system would be more George Lucas than George Orwell.

“It’s like Star Wars a little bit,” Maikish said.

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